Tampa Bay Rowdies Ink English Nat’l Team Vet Joe Cole

Joe Cole Coventry Rowdies

by JAKE NUTTING

After months of speculation, it has finally been confirmed that former English national team star Joe Cole is coming to the North American Soccer League to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

A report from The Unused Substitutes states that Cole could suit up for Tampa Bay as soon as next week when the Rowdies host Georgios Samaras and expansion side Rayo OKC on May 14th. His availability for that match depends on how swiftly the approval of his visa and International Transfer Certificate come through.

The deal runs through the 2017 NASL season and the Rowdies hold a club option for 2018.

Securing the services of the 34-year-old attacking midfielder has been a months-long process for the Rowdies and is the result of owner Bill Edwards’ ambition to bring in a high-profile player who could raise the level of the organization both on and off the field.

Similar to the strategy employed by the New York Cosmos with legendary players Marcos Senna and Raul, the Rowdies are hoping the recruitment of a longtime veteran of the Premier League and multiple World Cups will first help them find positive results on the field, but also put them on the same stage as other North American clubs competing for experienced international players.

The Rowdies first contacted Cole late last year and even hosted him for a few days back in February. Cole is said to have been so impressed by the facilities and the strong pitch from the front office about building up the club that it didn’t take long for him to agree to sign up once he returned to England.

Cole comes to the Rowdies with three World Cup call ups and around 500 appearances in the Premier League, with stops at notable clubs like West Ham United, Chelsea and Liverpool. During his seven-year run at Chelsea, the versatile attacking midfielder helped the club capture three league titles and three FA Cup trophies.

While  his track record is impressive, the past few years of Cole’s career have seem him struggle to find playing time at the top level in England. Most recently, Cole was with Coventry City in England’s League One. Working his way back to fitness over the course of the season, he was able to become a regular contributor for the club, recording two goals and six assists through 22 appearances. He’ll try to bring some of that productivity to the Rowdies, who have scored just four goals through their first five matches of the Spring Season.

  • Not Njego Pesa

    Signings like Joe Cole and Kranjcar show me how much American soccer has progressed. Both these players no question would have been MLS players 10 years ago but the growth and quality of play continues to improve and more importantly, continues to improve in the lower divisions.

    • Smurf040

      Absolutely! And that’s good for the states.