Joe Cole will take up a coaching role at the Chelsea academy in the new year, the latest of the club’s famous old boys to lay the foundations for a career in management in what has become the most successful youth development programme of the last decade.
Cole, 37, announced his retirement from playing last month and said that he was ready to move into coaching with his Uefa A license qualification already completed. It is expected that he will move between the club’s age groups at first and then be assigned a specific team next season.
Under the club’s academy director Neil Bath, the club have not just produced a long line of top young footballers for the England youth teams but they have also begun launching the careers of coaches. Brendan Rodgers began as a youth team coach at Chelsea and Frank Lampard’s assistant at Derby County, Jody Morris, was a successful coach of the club’s Under-18s.
Chelsea’s Under-18s have won the last five FA Youth Cups although they have been eliminated from the competition this season by Manchester United. The academy has become a benchmark for the new standards in youth development, twice winning the new Uefa Youth League and reaching the final last season.
Cole began coaching while playing at the last club of his 20-year career, the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the second tier of the United States professional game. Like many of his England contemporaries, Cole wants to have a career in management and increasingly that generation are taking their first steps in academy football, where standards, and expectations are high.
Upon retirement last month, he said: “Looking to the future, I want to stay involved in the game. I feel I can offer a lot as a coach and have really enjoyed the opportunity to undertake some of these duties with the Rowdies. To lend my experience to help other young footballers achieve their dreams, just like I did, is a big passion of mine.”
Cole’s own development was at West Ham, and at the now defunct Football Association Lilleshall centre. He was a boyhood Chelsea fan and a teenage prodigy whom Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign to Manchester United throughout his younger years at West Ham. While Chelsea’s issue in the past has been getting academy graduates into the first team, that barrier seems to be slowly breaking down the quality of individuals like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Others out on loan include Mason Mount, Reece James, Jake Clarke-Salter and Tammy Abraham.