Cole quits England after World Cup axe

Cole quits England after World Cup axe
Former Arsenal defender Cole made his international debut against Albania in 2001 and has been an England regular ever since, starting every tournament game since his finals bow against Sweden at the 2002 World Cup.

LONDON - Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole announced Sunday he was retiring from international football after being told he'd been left out of England manager Roy Hodgson's squad for the World Cup.

"I got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players," the 33-year-old Cole told his Twitter followers.

"We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything," the 107-times capped Cole added ahead of Hodgson's official squad announcement on Monday.

Cole's words indicated his failure to hold down a regular first-team spot at Chelsea this season, where he has been displaced by Spain's Cesar Azpilicueta, had cost him his England career.

His omission means that Everton's Leighton Baines is set to be confirmed as England's leading left-back when Hodgson unveils his 23-man squad for the World Cup finals, with Southampton teenager Luke Shaw providing cover for the 29-year-old.

"#Baines and #shaw are great players, proved this season, and are the future of this country, it was a pleasure to get #107 caps #eng," added Cole, who earlier on Sunday started in Chelsea's final league game of the season, a 2-1 victory away to already-relegated Cardiff, on Twitter.

Former Arsenal defender Cole made his international debut against Albania in 2001 and has been an England regular ever since, starting every tournament game since his finals bow against Sweden at the 2002 World Cup.

Back in March, Hodgson said he understood he might have to disappoint a "big name" player when it came to selecting his squad for Brazil.

On Sunday, Hodgson told the Football Association website that dropping Cole, who "in his prime" was the world's best left-back, had been one of the toughest decisions of his career.

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