Goal of the Day: 'C' is for Cole
Our A-Z ‘Goal of the Day’ series continues today with the letter ‘C’, for Cole.
Cole was already a Premier League Golden Boot winner when he signed for the Reds from Newcastle United in January 1995.
Although United failed to add a third consecutive title in the Nottingham-born forward's first campaign, he netted 17 league goals across the following two seasons as his former club were pipped to the trophy in 1996 and 1997.
It is for the 1998/99 season that Cole is most remembered by fans, though. Striking up a legendary partnership with Dwight Yorke, Cole gleaned 24 strikes in 50 games – including the one against Barcelona, which you can see below – as United powered towards a unique Treble.
SIGNING FOR UNITED
Cole's move to Old Trafford in 1995 was seen as a major shock at the time – and a huge coup for Alex Ferguson and his side. Andy was prolific at St James' Park, scoring 68 goals in 84 games, and the Magpies, along with eventual champions Blackburn Rovers, were threatening to challenge United's Premier League hegemony. Cole's £7 million transfer was a then British record, with Keith Gillespie moving in the other direction.
16 May 1999. United are being held 1-1 at home by Tottenham Hotspur, in a game in which we need all three points to be sure of wrenching the league back from Arsenal. Gary Neville chips a ball over the top to the onrushing Cole, who finds space between two Spurs defenders. Stretching, he brings the ball down perfectly, before lobbing deftly over goalkeeper Ian Walker. 2-1 United, and the first leg of the Treble was secured.
Cole's United career got off to a lightning-fast start, with his five-goal haul against Ipswich in our record 9-0 victory a particular highlight of his early months at the club. Andy was in and out of the side for one reason or another for the next two years, but it was Eric Cantona's retirement that would eventually allow him to shine as the Reds' no.9. Fifty-one league goals in three seasons between 1997 and 2000 was more than any other United player. Teddy Sheringham's form in 2000/01 and Ruud van Nistelrooy's arrival the following year saw Cole's role gradually reduced, leading him to make the difficult decision to sign for Blackburn in December 2001.
Cole, who won the 2002 Worthington Cup with Rovers, was later reunited with Yorke when Dwight also moved to Ewood Park. He went on to play for a further five Premier League clubs, including our crosstown rivals Manchester City, before retiring in 2008 after a spell at hometown club Nottingham Forest.
WHAT THEY SAID
“Andy Cole had a great time with us. He and Dwight Yorke had that fantastic season in 1999. That year they were the best partnership in Europe.” (Sir Alex Ferguson)
“I would probably say Yorke and Cole [were the best], just for that Treble season where they were absolutely sensational, the way they would play together. They lit up the whole league, they lit up Europe.” (Gary Neville)