Costly gamble pays off for West Ham’s Cole

West Ham striker Carlton Cole revealed he took a huge pay cut to stay at Upton Park - now it has paid dividends

Carlton Cole stood in front of the gathered press at Wembley Stadium while the pre-match warm-up for the Champions League final was being shown on the television right behind him.

He glanced over his shoulder and that familiar beaming smile returned to his face.

“I’ve been watching Chelsea on TV this season and really envying them,” he said. “I was just thinking I wish I was out there because that is where we should be. It feels so great to be back in the Premier League again.

“I have learnt my lesson. I don’t want to be back in the Championship again and I’m going to work even harder to make sure that we can stay there.”

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Nobody worked harder than the England striker at Wembley on Saturday. He scored the opening goal, and after his mistake helped Blackpool to equalise, he was there at the death to set-up Ricardo Vaz Te for his winner.

He may not have been there at all. The offers came from Galatasaray in Turkey and Stoke City to move back to big time football, but Cole turned them down and was forced to take a pay cut into the bargain.

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“I’ve kept my mouth shut for quite a while, but I did take a wage cut to stay in the Championship,” he revealed. “Half my wages just went, but I thought I want to help the club get back to where we belong.

“I didn’t want to leave the ship, I would not have been able to live with myself.”

West Ham accepted terms from Stoke City to sign the 28-year-old, but Cole, who has been at the club for seven years now, opted against an immediate return to the Premier League.

“At the end of the day I feel happy here,” he confirmed. “The manager welcomed me, stuck by me and said ‘listen, we will have a good season this year, get up and you will be back in the Premier League anyway’.”

Sam Allardyce was right and Cole’s 15 goals this term have been the best seasonal tally of his career.

“It could be my best season,” considered the striker. “I haven’t played all the games so it has been quite an achievement for me, but playing here at Wembley makes it one of the best days of my career.

“It is brilliant and I am so happy and really, really proud to be a Hammer today.”

No-one had a bigger smile than Cole at Wembley on Saturday and it was with pride that he described his goal.

“I love that little movement off the shoulder of the defender and if the ball is right I can usually get in on goal,” he explained.

“Obviously Matt Taylor has got a brilliant left foot and he has delivered it straight in where I needed it and that gave us the goal we needed.”

It did and after the misery of last season’s relegation, Cole pinpointed the influence of two people in West Ham’s renaissance.

“I have worked with a lot of managers and you can see the contrast from last season to this season is massive,” said Cole.

“We have got a captain who is keeping everyone together, keeping everyone going and in everybody’s ear to make sure they don’t go off track.

“That is what we really needed. We had a proper captain this year.”

If that was a veiled barb against last season’s skipper Matty Upson, Cole was equally even more forthright about the role of Allardyce.

“The boss has a different style, he is a different type of coach. He is a winner and he will do anything he needs to do to achieve that,” said Cole.

“When you are not playing well you know about it because the hairdryer is out, he doesn’t give you a chance to get a word in!

“I just need a manager that loves me. If you manage me properly I think I will give you the best and this season I think that has happened.”

Cole has been in and out of favour with the West Ham fans, but it seems that he is definitely a favourite at the moment.

One banner read: ‘Sex and drugs and Carlton Cole’ much to the amusement of the striker.

“I can’t condone the drugs part!” he laughed.

“But sex we all love, you know what I mean? And Carlton Cole we all love as well!! It is a lovely banner.”

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