A FEW days ago Ashley Cole announced that he wants to be a top manager… blink and you would have missed it.
Cole has the taste for it after helping coach Chelseas Under-15s to victory in the Premier League International Tournament earlier this month.
In his 20-year playing career Cole won three Premier League titles, a record seven FA Cups, the Champions League in 2012 and 107 England caps.
Last week he said: I want to be the best. In three, four or five years, hopefully I can be a top manager.
I want to emulate people like Frank or JT…and Stevie G. Credit to them.
Lampard, Terry and Gerrard, who all happen to be white, found work at lightning speed.
They were heavily promoted, destined for top jobs based on public image and perception. All three benefited hugely from that.
Lamps, only a year into his managerial career, is already back at Chelsea, while former Blues skipper JT is assistant to Dean Smith at Aston Villa.
Gerro, who started out coaching Liverpools Under-18s for a year, is into his second season with Rangers.
Cole, a veteran of more than 500 games with Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Chelsea, Roma, LA Galaxy and Derby before hanging up his boots this summer, has just as much to offer.
He has been absorbed by Chelsea, assigned a role with the U15s by Academy boss Neil Bath after starting his coaching badges.
The former left-back is so proud of their victory in the International Tournament that he has used a photo of the coaching staff as his profile pic on Twitter.
If Lampard, John Terry or Gerrard had lifted silverware in such a short space of time there would have been a stampede.
Cole, 38, is a teacher now, passing on some of the invaluable experiences he picked up during his stellar playing career.
He is working under Frank OBrien and Ian Howell, passing on some of the coaching principles he studied while working under Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
Cole also learned the survival techniques needed at the highest level.
His ankles would be so sore after training and games he would immediately ice them in the dressing room.
And his body fat was less than six per cent, one of the lowest on record for an elite-level footballer.
That dedication allowed him to showboat occasionally, pretending to put Manchester Uniteds Cristiano Ronaldo in his pocket during their legendary tussles.
The former England defender was that good. He can also pass on some life-style tips after getting caught up in a celebrity bubble during his marriage to Girls Alouds Cheryl.
When Ancelottis lawless regime was in place at Stamford Bridge, Cole shot a work experience student with an air rifle during a training-ground “joke”.
Fortunately, he has his sights set elsewhere now.
Chelseas offer, bringing him back to the club along with a number of other ex-players, has whetted the appetite.
Cole could, in his own words, be sitting on a beach somewhere reflecting on his exceptional playing career.
Instead there is purpose in his work, combining coaching acumen and the gift of articulation to his experiences on the pitch.
There is humility, carting goals across the pitches with the other coaches and putting out the cones for the drills.
And he is happy enough to do it. He added: It is about developing players we are trying to tell them what it takes to be a top player.
Cole, just as well as anyone, can tell them what it takes.