England defender Ashley Cole is looking forward to having a starring role at Roma. The 33-year-old was unveiled on Tuesday to the media at the club's headquarters in Trigoria, Rome, after joining the Italian outfit earlier this month as a free agent.
"I decided to come here in order to continue to play in the Champions League with a great and ambitious club," Cole said. "I realised how much the club wanted me and that they considered me useful to their project and I jumped at the opportunity. I arrive at an ambitious club and hope to win here."
Roma, coached by Rudi Garcia, finished runners-up in the Italian Serie A last season. Cole is accustomed to fighting for titles with Chelsea and before that, Arsenal, and he expects to be in the hunt for the Scudetto with Roma.
"I am not afraid of the pressure to win because I spent 14 years in England always fighting for a starting spot and that's what I want to continue doing," Cole said. "This is a great challenge and I am ready. I am also ready to fight for a place in the team and to try to win."
Cole signed a two-year deal with Roma after spending eight years at Stamford Bridge. He won four FA Cups with Chelsea and also helped the Blues win the English Premier League title in 2010 as well as the 2012 UEFA Champions League.
Cole was a league-cup winner with Chelsea in 2007 and he also helped the Blues prevail in the Europa League under interim manager Rafael Benitez in 2013. When asked if he had a difficult time with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after the coach's return to the club last season, Cole answered: "I've always had a good relationship with Mourinho.
"Then as the years have gone by, I was probably not as useful to Chelsea and my agent told me of the chance to come to Roma. During my career I have had great coaches like (Arsene) Wenger, Mourinho and (Luiz Felipe) Scolari and I am certain that at Roma it will be the same."
Cole will be the only British player in Italy's top flight after England U-21 winger Tom Ince turned down the chance to join Inter Milan and signed for Hull City instead. "Perhaps British players are a little afraid to move abroad," Cole said. "They are accustomed to British culture and for them it is convenient to stay at home. But as soon as I had this opportunity, I was glad to get out of London, to face a new language and a new culture.
"I know it's a special atmosphere (at Roma), I immediately realised the passion of the people and their love of this club. But this is also the reason why I am here, to experience these emotions and enjoy the city and this adventure."
Italian football has had to combat the racist behaviour of some spectators in their stadiums over the years. Cole was asked about the racism issue in Italy. "I've answered this question several times," he said. "It is difficult to answer but, personally, I was involved in an episode when playing with England against Spain.
"We must act decisively, but it is not for me to say what sanctions are to be imposed. I just want to play football and I prefer to stay out of these decisions."