JOE COLE TO LEAVE CHELSEA
Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Joe Cole will be leaving the club upon the expiration of his contract at the end of this month.
It brings to an end Joe's seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge, and we would like to thank him for his dedicated years of service and wish him well in his future career.
Cole arrived here in the summer of 2003, a £6.6 million signing from West Ham United funded shortly after Roman Abramovich's takeover of the club, though it was unclear how his skills would best be utilised under the guidance of Claudio Ranieri.
Things became a lot clearer when Jose Mourinho took over, implementing a devastating 4-3-3 system that saw his wide men run riot - while Joe was only rarely preferred to Damien Duff or Arjen Robben, he popped up with a number of crucial goals and stepped in well to cover Robben's injury problems, securing first a Carling Cup (his first medal in professional football) and then Chelsea's first championship in 50 years.
The next season saw perhaps the best form of his career as we surged to another title, the standout memory of the season being the fine individual goal that bamboozled Manchester United's defence and all but wrapped up a back-to-back title win.
Injury would dominate his 2006/07 campaign but he returned fit for 2007/08, and though Mourinho departed Joe took on further responsibility, again scoring crucial goals to keep us in the title race, earning the Chelsea Player of the Year award to recognise his efforts.
A ruptured cruciate ligament in January 2009 saw him miss eight months before a sparkling return against Queens Park Rangers in the Carling Cup, where he also wore the captain's armband.
After a season of being in and out of the starting line-up as he worked his way back to complete fitness, the last of Joe's 39 Chelsea goals came at Old Trafford in April. It was a delicate flick that summed him up as a player and helped propel us back to the top of the Barclays Premier League where we would stay until the end of the season.
In total, he played 282 times for Chelsea, 93 as a substitute. He becomes a free agent when his contract expires at the end of the month.