Ashley Cole is “absolutely buzzing” to be working as England Under-21s assistant boss, a role he feels will help him “massively” as he looks to build towards a future step into management.
The 40-year-old former England left-back has been in the job since July, when Lee Carsley succeeded Aidy Boothroyd as England under-21 head coach.
After retiring in 2019, Cole had a short spell coaching at Derby before returning to his old club Chelsea as an academy coach, a role he now combines with his England Under-21s duties.
Speaking a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s friendly away against Georgia, Cole said: “I’m absolutely buzzing to be here and get to experience coaching elite young players.
“It’s been a brilliant experience, a great learning curve, definitely helped me develop in terms of where I want to go next.
“I think it’s important me and Joleon (Lescott, his fellow former England defender who is also part of the coaching staff) came in and tried to give our experiences of the game and little details for the players to then progress to the next level, which is senior football with England.”
Asked for his thoughts on potentially following his former team-mates Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard into management, Cole said: “It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about and taking really seriously.
“In terms of the coaching pathway, I’m trying to learn and gain as much experience as I can and develop myself as a person but also as a coach, and hopefully in a few years, or year, who knows, to go into that managerial role.
“It’s something I definitely want to get into. I still have a lot to learn but I think being here is going to help me massively.”
He added: “I wasn’t here just to be the cheerleader. Giving the real detail to the players on one v one defending or unit work, I have delivered that, but also the tactical work.”
Cole was joined at the press conference by England Under-21s left-back Luke Thomas, and the Leicester player said: “When I first came in to the under-21s this year, I didn’t realise Ash was one of the coaches, so it was a bit of a surprise seeing him here.
“He’s one of best left-backs there’s ever been, so to learn from him…and he’s a top guy, he’s so down with the lads, but also at the right times serious and tells you what you can improve on and do. It’s always great to have him around.
“His positioning and things like that, still to this day, his crossing is unbelievable still…he’d still be able to fill in for me if he needed to.”
Cole, who won 107 caps for England, says he is trying as a coach to put emphasis on the significance of playing international football.
“I probably took it for granted in terms of my first cap and then didn’t really appreciate the 107, because I see it as something you have to do, you must do, it’s normal to represent your country at the highest level,” Cole said.
“But there was a lot of hard work that got me there and went into that.
“So in terms of me now, I try to sit on the other side of that and really try to push and emphasise the importance of wearing this shirt with Three Lions, it means a lot. You’re living a lot of young kids’ dreams.
“In terms of wearing this badge, I think it’s a tremendous achievement, so to get an England cap, these players should really cherish that.”
Regarding the friendly against Georgia, who are one of the hosts for the 2023 Euros, Cole said: “It is an opportunity to maybe give some minutes to players who have not played as much for their clubs but also within this environment.
“It gives us another opportunity to see the high quality of them, and play away from home in hopefully a hostile environment – it’s always learning and developing, which is great for these boys.”