England left-back Ashley Cole so proud to be Player of the Year.
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Ashley Cole has spoken of his pride at being voted England Player of the Year 2010 by fans on TheFA.com.
The record-equalling left-back was selected as England's best performer over the past 12 months and told FATV how grateful he is to be recognised by the Three Lions faithful.
"It feels amazing," said Cole in an exclusive interview with FATV. "It came as a big surprise to me, I never thought I would get this award with all the other players who were in the running. I never thought it would be me, but I'm very privileged and proud and thankful to the fans. It's been hard for me at times, but now I think I've got their appreciation and I'm very grateful."
Cole pipped Steven Gerrard and Adam Johnson into second and third place respectively for the annual award, as he took part in nine of England's 12 matches played in 2010. The defender also enjoyed a successful year with club Chelsea, claiming an historic 'double' with the London outfit.
"Looking back I think I had a great season. I won the league and The FA Cup and I was in the UEFA team of the season, and now this award.
"For me it was a great year and I hope I can carry on keep getting caps and playing well for England. Hopefully trying to win something for England and progress further than we have in the past," said Cole.
With 86 caps to his name, the former Arsenal man is in line to surpass the international achievements of another legendary Gunner, Kenny Sansom. Sansom also appeared 86 times for England - the most for a full-back - and as Cole prepares with Fabio Capello and the rest of the squad to face Denmark tomorrow night, he looks likely to go one better than his hero.
"I want to play as long as I can for England, at the minute I'm level with a left-back who was an idol of mine and a great player. To hopefully take over that record on Wednesday night would be a great achievement," he said.
If he does play on Wednesday it will be an achievement that has come from hard work and commitment over more than 20 years and Cole says such rewards make it all worthwhile.
"I see so many young players who have great ability but maybe didn't give enough effort and they fade away and don't make it. To be at the top you have to dedicate your life to football. Of course there are great rewards we get, but from eight or nine years old I've been practising every hour I had. When I was at school I was playing football every day and you want to make your dream come true.
"It is hard, but you're out in the fresh air playing football with your mates. It's the dream job."
Cole's quality and commitment on the pitch have never been questioned but the England stalwart recognises that he hasn't always enjoyed the easiest of relationships with the fans. That tension came to a head when he was booed during England's game with Kazakhstan, following a mistake that led to a goal but Cole believes he has overcome those issues and can now simply concentrate on doing his best for his country.
"I think it's hard because every player makes a mistake on the pitch. But I don't think it was about that mistake, I think it was a more personal thing, so it hurt me even more.
"But every time I put on an England shirt I try my hardest, I want to win, and I think in voting me Player of the Year the fans are starting to see that.
"I just want to play for my country and do everything I can to win."