CARSON, Calif. – Ashley Cole offered something of a mea culpa for his “relax on the beach” remarks about MLS from 19 months ago when he was formally introduced Friday afternoon as one of the LA Galaxy's new signings, noting that he's not the “diva” he's sometimes portrayed to be.
It didn't take long – the first question – before Cole's critical comments about the United States' top league, as he arrived in Rome after signing with AS Roma in July 2014, to arise at the StubHub Center news conference featuring the English defender and Belgian center back Jelle Van Damme.
“Of course, I knew I was going to get this question,” Cole responded. “I'm not going to come in and try to defend myself. ... I've said it. Yes, it's come out of my mouth, but, for sure, it's taken out of [context].”
Cole had just landed at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino airport when he was asked about the possibilities in MLS he rejected before agreeing to come to Serie A. He cited the myth of MLS as a “retirement” league.
“I have had other offers from the USA,” he revealed then, “but I'm not ready to relax on a beach yet.”
The words dogged the former Arsenal, Chelsea and England national team star as reports began circulating in December that he was close to signing for the Galaxy, who announced his acquisition nine days ago.
Cole said he took the words from a reporter who told him, just before he talked the media at the airport, that “we're glad to have you at Roma, we didn't expect you to be here, we thought you would go and relax on the beach.”
He says he'll show fans in America what he's truly about.
“You have to understand, I was with a new team, I have to kind of tell the fans at Roma I was there to fight, there to win things and play the Champions League in Europe,” Cole said. “But, of course, I hold my hand up, it was said, but, for sure, it's taken out of [context]. But I have to deal with it, and I hope I can kind of change the views of me coming here, playing on the pitch and playing as good as I can.”
“Of course, you see people like [New York City FC midfielder Frank] Lampard and, of course, Stevie G, Keano, and, of course, I spoke to them on many occasions how difficult it is,” he said. “I spoke to [Galaxy coach Bruce Arena about] how difficult it is with the traveling and the demands of the game over here. I'm not fooled. I know it's going to be hard work for me, for sure, but I say I'm happy to be here, I'm going to try to work as hard as I can, change a few views on me on me being here, and we'll see.
“And, of course, I'm a winner. I always want to win. I didn't come here to sit on the beach, to rest. I'm here to play football. I'm here to work hard. I'm not a diva. I'm not this kind of egotistical guy that comes and thinks he's bigger than anyone. I come here, and I will work as hard as I can.”