Cole started his career with West Ham United, where, after breaking into the first team in January 1999, he played more than 120 Premier League games over five seasons. He was one of a number of players who left West Ham in the summer of 2003, after the club had been relegated to the Football League First Division, with Cole signing for Chelsea. He spent seven seasons at Chelsea, playing over 280 games in all competitions and winning ten trophies, including three Premier League titles, two FA Cups and two League Cups. He left Chelsea on a free transfer in July 2010 to join Liverpool, who a year later loaned him to Lille. After a season in France, he returned to Liverpool before re-joining West Ham in January 2013. He signed for Aston Villa in June 2014, then joined Coventry City on loan in October 2015, joining on a permanent deal in January 2016.
Capped by England at under-16, under-18 and under-21 level, Cole was a full international between 2001 and 2010, capped by the England national team on 56 occasions, scoring 10 goals. He was selected for the England squad at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups and Euro 2004.
Cole was born in Paddington, London, and lived there until he moved to Somers Town at the age of six. He was adopted by George and Susan Cole, and grew up with brother Nicky and sister Charly.
Cole is a product of the West Ham United youth system. He was long touted as the hottest prospect in English football, with Manchester United reportedly offering to pay £10 million for his services as a 16-year-old. Playing in a mould similar to former England favourite Paul Gascoigne, he progressed through the West Ham ranks before making his first-team debut aged 17 on 2 January 1999 in an FA Cup third round tie against Swansea City, and eight days later made his Premier League debut, away to Manchester United. In 1999, Cole was part of West Ham's victorious FA Youth Cup-winning squad (alongside Michael Carrick), defeating Coventry City 9–0 on aggregate in the final. Cole played only eight Premier League games in his first season but in the following season, he made 22 Premier League appearances, was a member of the West Ham team which won the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup, scored his first goal for West Ham, in a 3–2 League Cup win at Birmingham City on 30 November 1999 and scored his first Premier League goal, in a 5–4 home win against Bradford City, on 12 February 2000. In January 2003, then West Ham manager Glenn Roeder gave Cole the club captain's armband at the age of 21. Cole's last game for West Ham came on 11 May 2003 in a 2–2 draw with Birmingham City, a game which saw West Ham relegated from the Premier League. Cole won the "Hammer of the Year award" for 2003.
On 6 August 2003, Cole signed for Chelsea for a fee of £6.6 million after he had rejected a new contract with West Ham. He was the sixth player signed after the club's takeover by billionaire Roman Abramovich, among those were his former West Ham teammate Glen Johnson. Manager Claudio Ranieri saw Cole as the perfect replacement for Gianfranco Zola, whom the club had released earlier that year, and West Ham declared that the transfer was enough for them not to sell any more players that summer.
A week after signing for the club, Cole made his debut in a UEFA Champions League qualifier away to MŠK Žilina. He came on as a substitute for fellow new signing Damien Duff with 21 minutes remaining and caused Michal Drahno to score an own goal to conclude a 2–0 victory. On 17 August, he played his first Premier League game for the club, again replacing Duff for the last 15 minutes in a 2–1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield. He scored his first goal on 29 October in the League Cup against Notts County, replacing Jesper Grønkjær in the 70th minute and netting the last goal in a 4–2 victory which put Chelsea into the last 16. On 17 December, in the next round, he started away to Aston Villa, finishing Hernán Crespo's cross to equalise in an eventual 1–2 defeat. Cole's only other goal of the season was his only one in the league campaign, ending a one-two with Frank Lampard to open the scoring after five minutes away to Newcastle United, albeit in a 1–2 defeat.
Cole took advantage of injuries to wingers Duff and Arjen Robben to become a regular member of Chelsea's Premier League title winning team in 2004–05. He started in the League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium on 27 February, making way for Johnson after 81 minutes of an eventual 3–2 win after extra time against Liverpool. His form saw him hit a run of goals towards the end of the season, and he scored a goal on 9 March against Norwich City blasted in from 20 yards off his weaker left foot Cole scored ten goals for Chelsea in 2004–05 and ended the season with a Premier League champions' medal.
In the first half of the 2005–06 season, Cole secured himself in the Chelsea first-team lineup, ahead of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Damien Duff. Cole also extended his contract with Chelsea for another four seasons. He ended his season by scoring one of the goals in Chelsea's 3–0 win over Manchester United, which earned the Premier League title for the team. He was subsequently named in the PFA Team of the Year. Just weeks after Cole's participation in the 2006 World Cup, he was injured in the pre-season.
In January 2007, Cole underwent surgery for a stress fracture on his foot he suffered in late 2006. He made his return for Chelsea in the first leg of Chelsea's 1–1 draw in the Champions League quarter-final tie against Valencia. He started for Chelsea in their victory over Manchester United in the 2007 FA Cup Final, and went on to be substituted at half-time.
In 2007–08, Cole scored a low driven shot that tucked into the corner against West Ham, opting not celebrate against his former club. He scored another goal in the League Cup semi-finals against Everton which sent Chelsea to another final. Cole played in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, which Chelsea lost on penalties to Manchester United; he was substituted in extra time for Nicolas Anelka, who missed Chelsea's crucial penalty.
Joe Cole continued his excellent performances racking up a rate of ten goals and eight assists in all competitions, due to his performance he won the Chelsea Player of the Year 2008.
On 17 August 2008, Cole scored the first Premier League goal of the management of Luiz Felipe Scolari in a 4–0 win against Portsmouth. After surgery on his knee to repair an injury he picked up in the FA Cup clash with Southend United, Cole missed the rest of the season.
Cole did not play for Chelsea in the 2009–10 pre-season due to cruciate ligament damage in his knee, suffered in January 2009. He made a return to the starting line-up in Chelsea's League Cup match against Queens Park Rangers on 23 September 2009 in which he was also handed the captain's armband. Cole made his first 2009–10 Premier League appearance for Chelsea against Blackburn Rovers, playing in attacking midfield in a 5–0 win. On 8 November 2009, he played his 250th game for Chelsea, coming on as a substitute against Manchester United in the 62nd minute for Deco, on his 28th birthday. On 3 April 2010, Cole scored the first goal in a 2–1 win at Old Trafford against Manchester United in a potential title deciding game. Described as a "clever flick", his goal helped Chelsea win and overtake Manchester United at the top of the league as they were at the end of the season. He came on as a substitute as Chelsea won the 2010 FA Cup Final, his second appearance in an FA Cup Final for Chelsea. His contract with Chelsea expired on 30 June 2010, making him a free agent. Cole ended his career at Chelsea having won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups.
Cole joined Liverpool on a free transfer after signing a four-year deal in July 2010. He was manager Roy Hodgson's first signing at the club and was given the number 10 shirt. Cole was to receive £90,000-a-week wages and was advertised as a major coup by the club. Club captain Steven Gerrard even claimed Cole was as technically good as Lionel Messi. After leaving the club in 2013, Cole revealed that joining Liverpool was a mistake due to not feeling a connection with the club or fans.
Cole made his Liverpool debut on 5 August 2010 against Rabotnički in the UEFA Europa League assisting the opening goal for David N'Gog in a 2–0 win. His league debut, against Arsenal at Anfield on 15 August 2010, lasted just 45 minutes as he was sent off for a challenge on Laurent Koscielny. In his next match, on 19 August 2010, Cole missed a penalty against Trabzonspor in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round first leg, though Liverpool still won 1–0. Cole played in Jamie Carragher's testimonial match, where he scored his first goal for the club. He then scored his first competitive goal for the club against Steaua București in a Europa League group stage match at Anfield on 16 September 2010, converting just 27 seconds into the game. Liverpool ended up winning 4–1. He scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool in a 2–1 win against Bolton Wanderers on 3 January 2011. On 17 February, Cole played his first match under new manager Kenny Dalglish in a 0–0 draw against Sparta Prague in the Europa League, in which he came on as a first-half substitute for the injured Fábio Aurélio. Cole scored his first and only goal under Kenny Dalglish's tenure in a 5–0 win against Birmingham City at Anfield in April.
On 31 August 2011, Cole signed for French champions Lille on a season-long loan. On his debut against Saint-Étienne, he gained his first assist after a solo run where he took on and beat four players to set up the third goal in Lille's 3–1 victory. Cole got another assist in his second Lille appearance against Bordeaux, assisting an Eden Hazard goal in a 1–1 draw. On 24 September, he scored his first goal for Lille, against Lorient, in a 1–1 draw. On 23 October, Cole came on as a 60th-minute substitute for Idrissa Gueye and scored his second goal for Lille in the 3–1 win over Lyon. Following his successful substitute appearance, he was included in the starting line-up for Lille's Round of 16 Coupe de la Ligue match against Ligue 2 club Sedan on 26 October. In the match, Cole scored the team's second goal in the 40th minute, which turned out to be decisive in a 3–1 win. Cole closed out the first half of the Ligue 1 season by scoring a goal in Lille's 4–4 draw with Nice on 21 December.
Cole netted his first hat-trick for Lille in a 6–0 victory over amateur club Chantilly in the Coupe de France Round of 64 on 7 January 2012.
Cole scored his fourth league goal of the season in a 4–1 triumph over Ajaccio on 15 April, firing the ball just inside the post following a cross from Nolan Roux. The final appearance in his loan with Lille came in their 4–1 final day victory over Nancy, he provided an assist for one of Eden Hazard's three goals and was later substituted off in the 64th minute by Nolan Roux. The playmaker underwent a career renaissance during his loan spell with Lille, scoring on four occasions in 27 league appearances and providing three assists. Following the season, Lille manager Rudi García declared his desire to keep Cole at the club. On 5 June 2012, however, he confirmed that Cole would not remain at Lille after stating that new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wanted the player to rejoin the Liverpool squad.
After a one-year loan to Lille, Cole returned to Liverpool with new manager Brendan Rodgers saying he wanted to have him in the squad for the upcoming season. He played three pre-season matches, against Toronto FC, Roma, and Tottenham Hotspur. On 2 August 2012, Cole started his first Liverpool game for over a year, playing in the Europa League first leg qualifier victory over FC Gomel. He was substituted after just 23 minutes being replaced by Raheem Sterling after tweaking his hamstrings. On 18 August 2012, he was able to return as a substitute in Liverpool's 3–0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
On 22 November 2012, Cole was given a start against BSC Young Boys in the Europa League, providing a cross to Jonjo Shelvey to score the opener and then scoring Liverpool's second, in the 2–2 draw. On 9 December 2012, he scored the equaliser as Liverpool beat his former club West Ham 3–2.
In January 2013, West Ham signed Cole on a free transfer from Liverpool, with Cole returning to his first professional club on an 18-month deal. He made his second "debut" on 5 January in an FA Cup third round tie against Manchester United. The game finished 2–2 with Cole providing the assists for both of West Ham's goals which were scored by James Collins. Cole scored his first league goal on his return to West Ham in a 1–1 home draw with Queens Park Rangers on 19 January 2013, scoring from close range after Carlton Cole's shot had been saved by QPR goalkeeper Júlio César. Cole scored his second West Ham goal since his return on 25 February 2013 in a 2–3 defeat to Tottenham, putting the Hammers 2–1 up by turning with the ball to score. On 17 August 2013, Cole scored West Ham's first Premier League goal of the 2013–14 campaign, netting the first in a 2–0 home victory over newly promoted Cardiff City.
Cole was ruled out of action for six weeks with a hamstring tear in September 2013. On 30 November 2013, he scored his second goal of the season in a home victory over Fulham, coming off the bench to complete the 3–0 victory. At the end of the 2013–14 season, and the end of Cole's 18-month contract, his departure from West Ham was confirmed. In his second spell, he had played in 37 games in all competitions, scoring five goals.
In June 2014, Cole signed a two-year contract with Aston Villa on a free transfer after he was released by West Ham. His debut for the club came on 27 August, starting and being replaced by Andreas Weimann in the 62nd minute as they lost 0–1 to League One club Leyton Orient in the second round of the League Cup.
Cole's first Premier League game was on 18 October, coming on for the final nine minutes in place of Christian Benteke in a 0–3 defeat away to Everton. On 29 November, Cole made his first start for Villa away to Burnley, opening the scoring in a 1–1 draw. He was an unused substitute on 30 May 2015 in the FA Cup Final, which Villa lost 0–4 to Arsenal.
On 16 October 2015, Cole signed for Coventry City on a 35-day, emergency loan deal, and made his debut four days later, playing for just under an hour in an away 0–0 draw against Rochdale. His debut goal came on 3 November in a 4–3 home win against Barnsley, a 20 yards (18 m) free-kick which put Coventry 4-2 up. In November, his loan with Coventry was extended until 3 January 2016.
On 7 January 2016, Cole signed on a free transfer on a deal lasting until the end of the season.
On 4 May 2016, Cole signed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League (NASL), signing a contract through the end of the 2017 NASL season, with a club option for 2018. He made his debut ten days later, playing the full 90 minutes of a 1–1 home draw against Rayo OKC. Two weeks later, away to Minnesota United, he scored his first goal to open a 2–0 win, assisting Eric Avila for the other; he was voted the league's Player of the Week. On 19 October, Cole was one of ten players nominated for the NASL Golden Ball award.
As an England schoolboy international, Cole scored seven goals in an 8–1 victory against Spain in an England Schoolboys game, as well as playing for England's under-17 team, where he scored the winning goal against Norway in a final of the Nordic Tournament. Cole made his senior international debut against Mexico in May 2001. He was a member of England's 2002 World Cup squad, making one substitute appearance in the tournament. Cole was also a squad member at UEFA Euro 2004, but did not play.
Cole's displays in England's friendlies leading up to the 2006 World Cup enhanced his reputation ahead of the summer's finals in Germany. In May 2006, he was confirmed in the England squad for the World Cup, ahead of Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips. He played on the left side of midfield in England's opening game against Paraguay on 10 June 2006. On 20 June 2006, England drew with Sweden in Group B play, with a final score of 2–2. Cole scored a volley in the 34th minute of the match and got an assist in the 85th when he sent in a ball to Steven Gerrard, with this contribution earning him the Man of the match award.
Cole lined up for the England squad for the first time since the 2006 World Cup in the 1–1 friendly draw against the Netherlands, on 15 November 2006 providing an assist for Wayne Rooney from a cross. After another injury, he returned to start the friendly against Brazil at Wembley Stadium on 1 June 2007.
Cole scored his seventh goal for England in June 2007, in Euro 2008 qualifying, away to Estonia.
On 7 February 2008, Cole was one of the 23-man squad selected for the friendly against Switzerland which they won 2–1, courtesy of Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Wright-Phillips goals. For Jenas' goal, Cole skipped down the left and crossed to Jenas. Cole was named Man of the match for his performance.
In August 2008, Cole scored a late equalising goal in a 2–2 draw at Wembley against the Czech Republic after coming on as a substitute. He then scored England's two goals in the next fixture after coming on as a second-half substitute in the 2–0 defeat of Andorra in the opening match for 2010 World Cup qualifying. In England's next World Cup qualifier, against Croatia, he suffered a head injury in a clash with Croatian defender Robert Kovač which resulted in the Croat's sending off.
Cole was named in the final 23-man selection for England's 2010 World Cup squad. He played, and scored, in a 3–0 victory against Platinum Stars, of South Africa's Premier Soccer League, in an unofficial warm-up game. However, he was limited to only two substitute appearances in the tournament itself, as England lost to Germany in the second round in what was to be his final international appearance.
Scores and results list England's goal tally first
A clever, versatile, and technically gifted midfielder, Cole is capable of playing in several offensive midfield positions, as an attacking midfielder, winger or supporting striker. A quick, strong and creative player, Cole is known in particular for his dribbling skills, and is capable of both scoring and creating goals due to his vision, passing and striking ability. His dribbling and overall flair was praised by Pelé, who stated that, "He has the skills of a Brazilian," during Cole's spell at Chelsea. Despite his talent, some pundits have argued that he has failed to live up to the potential he demonstrated in his youth, partially due to the recurring injuries he sustained throughout his career.
Cole married fitness instructor Carly Zucker in June 2009. Joe had been dating Carly since 2002 and proposed to her in 2007. The couple have a daughter, Ruby Tatiana Cole, born in March 2010, and a son, Harrison "Harry" Cole, born in October 2012.
In November 2009, Cole was caught driving his Audi A4 at 105 mph on a 70 mph section of dual carriageway in Claygate, Surrey. At the subsequent court case, Cole was warned he could lose his driving licence and was ordered to pay £600 costs. He has launched an appeal concerning his driving ban.
Cole is a wearer of contact lenses. He has worn them since his early days at Chelsea.As of match played 6 August 2017
West Ham UnitedUEFA Intertoto Cup: 1999
ChelseaPremier League (3): 2004–05, 2005–06, 2009–10
FA Cup (3): 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10
Football League Cup (2): 2004–05, 2006–07
FA Community Shield (2): 2005, 2009
UEFA Champions League Runner-up: 2007–08
IndividualWest Ham 'Hammer of the Year': 2003
Premier League Player of the Month: March 2005
PFA Premier League Team of the Year: 2006
Chelsea Player of the Year: 2008
USL Best XI: 2016