For two decades former Manchester United forward Andy Cole was one of the most prolific finishers in English football, winning every trophy available including the UEFA Champions League and becoming the second-highest goal scorer in English Premier League history.
The Nottingham-born player broke goal-scoring records at Newcastle United and then became the most expensive British transfer when he left Newcastle for Manchester United, the club he still calls “my team.” For Cole though, “playing in the World Cup” was the one thing missing in his career.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in the World Cup?” Cole told www.sc.qa, adding: “In 2022 it’s going to be so special and it will leave a legacy. To have it in Qatar, the first one in this region; it will be brilliant.”
After making 15 appearances for England, and becoming the first player to score five goals in a single game for Manchester United, the prolific attacker said that skepticism will turn to excitement the closer the tournament in Qatar comes: “When people see the stadiums and the training complexes and when it starts getting closer to the World Cup, I think people are going to start changing their minds, saying ‘wow this is fantastic’.
“I was just looking at the plans earlier on and I’m half saying to myself: ‘I wish I was at that age where I would have been able to play at that World Cup’. I’m looking at that saying ‘wow this is going to be absolutely amazing’.”
In 2022 it’s going to be so special and it will leave a legacy. To have it in Qatar, the first one in this region; it will be brilliant.
Having seen Qatar’s plans and progress on the stadiums that will be used in 2022, as well as the concept of cooling technology for open-air stadiums, the former England striker said: “When you talk about a hotel, OK not a problem. But we’re talking about a stadium, which could possibly hold 45,000 to 86,000 people, and I simply can’t wrap my head around that.
"We’re talking about a sport that’s played outdoors – you do have retractable roofs for rain in places like Germany – but talking about cooling a stadium will be something very, very special.”
Embracing Qatari culture
The dynamic striker in his day was very well acquainted with the English media, and provided his outlook on how Qatar should deal with it, saying: “You should embrace everyone. When the World Cup comes you’re going to have different cultures, different media, with everyone approaching things in a different way, so you have got to approach it with open arms.
“Some things will have to change because everyone wants to see the World Cup at its best. We all watch World Cups and see the glitz and glamour of the tournament, like we did in Brazil.”
Asked whether the tournament would further help develop football in Qatar, Cole said: “I do believe so because if you look at the US they held the World Cup in ’94, but the MLS picked up only afterwards. So I do believe that once you do have the World Cup here more players will want to come here to Qatar, it will be massive.”
Cole also believes that Qatari youngsters should try new pastures to help them qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, saying: “Qatari players do have to come out of their comfort zone. It’s a lovely place here, so they can’t get that comfortable.
"They must go to Europe and test themselves; from the climate to other things like physicality of the game in Europe. Once they go away and can do that, they’ll have proven themselves in Europe.”
And Cole also took the opportunity to send a message to English fans, who had plenty of reasons to cheer for the striker during his playing days: “I’ve always enjoyed Qatar and the people are so welcoming. If England gets to that World Cup (in 2022), football will unite everyone.”