After eight trophy-laden seasons in M16, the Reds legend opted to join Blackburn Rovers in order to guarantee first-team football and supplement his dream of playing for England at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea – a plan that was ultimately unsuccessful.
And speaking exclusively to ManUtd.com, Cole spoke candidly about the circumstances which prompted his departure and revealed the role Sir Alex Ferguson played in trying to keep him at United.
“When I left the club, I wanted to play more games and I saw the manager numerous times,” Andy explained. “He told me that I didn’t have to go, he didn’t want me to go, I could have stayed for as long as I could and I would get my games. But I was trying to force myself into the World Cup squad.
“In the end, he just said ‘Okay, I understand and I know what you are like, I will let you go’. The crazy thing is that he sold me for £7million, which is more than what he paid for me. He got me for £6m and sold me for £7m. So I remember that last meeting with him like it was yesterday.
“I really enjoyed my time but I left far too early. That is my only regret. I could have stayed at the football club for a lot longer and, looking back, I wish I had.”
Few could argue with Cole’s logic for leaving, particularly as the former Nottingham Forest and Newcastle striker had literally won everything there is to win in the game while plying his trade at the Theatre of Dreams. But as Andy