Leighton Baines says Ashley Cole is 'unquestionably' the best left-back of his generation
By Nicholas Veevers
says that Ashley Cole
is ‘unquestionably’ the best left-back of his generation, as the Chelsea man prepares to win his 100th England cap tonight.
The Everton star has been battling Cole for the full-back squad this season and will watch from the sidelines as his rival starts against Brazil at Wembley.
But there are no hard feeling from Baines, who admits he remains in awe of Cole following a trophy-laden career with Arsenal and Chelsea.
He said: “It’s a phenomenal achievement and it’s something that he thoroughly deserves.
“He’s been unquestionably the best left-back around for years and he’s been someone that people like myself and other England players have been able to look up to and learn from.
“There’s no better occasion to get your 100th cap than England v Brazil.”
Baines’ form for Everton has seen him push Cole hard for his place in Roy Hodgson’s team and he feels that is something which can only help the team.
And the 28-year-old has had a few more tastes of life in the Three Lions team over recent months during Cole’s spell on the sidelines.
He added: “I’ve been around the England squad for a few years and have been able to play the last few games, including a few competitive matches, which is nice.
“I’ve tried to do the best that I can when I’ve been called upon and I’ve been pleased with the performance levels for my club, so hopefully that can keep me in contention for a place in the squad and the team.”
England now face five-time World Cup winners in front of a sold-out Wembley on Wednesday as they kick-off 2013 and The FA' 150th anniversary in style.
And Baines admits he can’t wait for the chance to face some of the South Americans’ world stars in front of a home crowd.
“Brazil are one of those nations that love football and over the years, growing up as a kid and watching the tournaments, you see the special players that they’ve had in their teams,” he explained.
“It’s going to be a special night and it’s something that all of the fans will look forward to.”
You can read the full interview with Baines in the official Match Programme for the game. Click here to order your copy.