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Former Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole announces retirement from football

Former Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole has announced his retirement from all forms of football at the age of 38 following a two-decade-long career.

The veteran left-back made the annoncement on Sky Sports Super Sunday ahead of the Blues' clash with Leicester City in the Premier League.

A three-time title winner and Champions League victor during his playing days with the London outfit and their rivals Arsenal, he was released by Debry County at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

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"After hard thinking and consideration, it was obviously time to hang my boots up and look towards my next chapter," he stated on Sky Sports.

Widely considered to be one of the best left-backs of his generation, Cole came through the junior ranks at Arsenal and, save for a brief loan spell with Crystal Palace in 2000, spent all of the early part of his career from his debut in 1999 until 2006 with the Gunners at Highbury.

Under Arsene Wenger, he established himself as one of "The Invincibles", helping the club lift the 2003-04 Premier League crown in an undefeated season, while winning an additional three FA Cups during his stay and reaching the 2006 Champions League final, which the side lost to Barcelona.

However, for the majority of the 2005-06 season, he proved to be a controversial figure after it emerged that he made illegal contact with rivals Chelsea over a move to Stamford Bridge, leading into a protracted saga that saw his bond with Arsenal supporters tested and arguably irrevocably broken.

He finally made the move to the Blues in 2006, where he would go on to even greater success, winning a further top-flight title as well as reaching another Champions League final, only to lose again, this time to Manchester United, in 2008.

He was named Chelsea Players' Player of the Year subsequently in both 2008-09 and 2010-11 as he impressed under a succession of managers, before finally claiming European glory in 2012, scoring a penalty in the club's decisive shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich.

A move to Roma in 2014 followed though he was never able to establish himself to the level that he managed in England, before he moved to LA Galaxy in the MLS, where he played alongside former England team-mate Steven Gerrard.

In January, Cole signed a deal until the end of the season to play under former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard at Derby County and was a member of the squad that reached the Championship play-off final, before he was released.

At international level, he picked up 107 caps for England, joining the small handful of centurions for his country, while he was a member of the nation's 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads.