Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole could play for England together again – Neil Ashton

If Ferdinand lines up next to Cole again in an England shirt, trust them to put history to one side



23:01 GMT, 25 September 2012

Rio Ferdinand follows 302 people on Twitter, some of them famous and some of them footballers. Ashley Cole is not one of them.

Cole follows 175, many of them female and some of them footballers. Ferdinand is not one of them.

Perhaps, for these two ‘old family friends’ as Cole described them in Westminster Magistrates Court when he went in to bat for John Terry in July, it is an oversight.

 Rio Ferdinand

Ashley Cole

See you soon Rio Ferdinand (left) and Ashley Cole could be united with England

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Maybe Ferdinand, who was joint executive director with Cole in the film Dead Man Running starring 50 Cent, isn’t aware that the Chelsea defender recently started tweeting.

After Ferdinand’s ‘choc ice’ tweet, which landed him with a 45,000 fine from the FA, they are unlikely to be texting each other.

Whatever the circumstances, Roy Hodgson may have to take steps to repair their fractured relationship if he recalls Ferdinand for next month’s World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Poland.

Hodgson is a diplomatic guy, citing ‘football reasons’ behind the decision to Ferdinand out of the England’s Euro 2012 squad, but no-one bought that.

Bringing Ferdinand, a former England captain, and Cole together to play in the same team again may require some of Hodgson’s delicate mediation.

It is by no means a unique situation for an England manager to have two warring parties in the same squad, a scenario that unfolded during Kevin Keegan’s stewardship of the national team.

Less than a month after Robbie Fowler taunted Graeme Le Saux with homophobic abuse at Stamford Bridge in February 1999, they were picked in the same England squad for a game against Poland.

Keegan wanted to take the sting out
of the situation with a photo-call of the pair shaking each other’s
hands, calling a meeting between the pair at their Burnham Beeches hideaway.

‘No problem,’ said Fowler. ‘No problem,’ said Le Saux, ‘but on one condition: Robbie apologises.’

refused and Le Saux responded by refusing to go through with Keegan’s
PR stunt: ‘Shaking hands with Robbie would have been a token gesture for
the public – it would have meant nothing.’

No more talk Ferdinand and Cole in a promotion two years ago

No more talk Ferdinand and Cole in a promotion two years ago

Despite their personal differences, Le Saux and Fowler trained together in the England team, but barely mixed beyond the breakfast room or dining table.

Fowler was at the top of his game with Liverpool and Le Saux, back at Chelsea for second time, was in the PFA team of the year.

‘If Hodgson selects them next month, there will be a Cole camp and a Ferdinand camp, but it is up to the players to be professional in training and on the pitch,’ added Le Saux.

‘I didn’t feel alienated when I joined up with the England squad for the first time after the incident with Robbie because the guys I used to hang around with knew me.

‘It even got to the point with England when I wondered whether players were deliberately not passing to each other because of club rivalry or personal issues.’

Le Saux has all the secrets from his days as an England player, from inter-club rivalries to personal issues between some of the biggest names in the game.

After another high-profile dispute, this time with Paul Ince after an altercation during Chelsea’s clash at Anfield in October 1997, Le Saux remembers joining up with the England squad that night.

Glenn Hoddle’s team were preparing to travel to Italy for the World Cup qualifier at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, but Ince had other things to address.

Ince gave Le Saux ‘daggers’ when he walked into the dining hall, carrying a menacing and intimidating expression when he first caught sight of his England colleague.

Although dinner passed without incident, Le Saux called Ince in his hotel room shortly afterwards to request a face-to-face meeting.

Cold relations: Graeme Le Saux (left) and Paul Ince on England duty

Cold relations: Graeme Le Saux (left) and Paul Ince on England duty

They talked it through, but Ince refused
to accept that Le Saux’s reaction was under extreme provocation. In an
interview with the News of the World in 2010, Ince claims he still ‘wants to rip Le Saux’s head off’.

Footballer feuds are not uncommon, but the pair played together in England’s 0-0 draw in Italy to secure their place at the World Cup in France the following year.

They have never been able to put aside their differences, even though Le Saux considers the incident to be little more than footnote in his hugely successful playing career.

Crucially he put their personal issues to one side for the well-being of the squad, committing himself to a bigger cause. Le Saux did not want to damage the harmony in the squad, smart enough to accept that every footballer will have failings.

Ferdinand made a mistake when appeared to condone the phrase ‘choc ice’ in relation to Cole, but the insult is mild compared to the words John Terry admitted to using at Loftus Road last October.

Terry is unlikely to be forgiven for dragging Anton into the dock in July and Cole’s confusing account of the incident did not endear him to the Ferdinand clan.

A photocall with Cole is out of the question if Ferdinand wins a recall, but Hodgson is savvy enough to know they can still play in the same team.