Euro 2012: Cole eager to banish England’s last-eight demons

Ashley Cole says he has "unfinished business" with England and is targeting a place in the semi-finals against Germany

ashley cole
Ashley Cole will earn his 98th cap against Italy Photo: Football.ua, via Wikimedia

ashley cole

Ashley Cole admits he is desperate to finally reach the semi-finals of a major tournament as the Chelsea defender prepares to earn his 98th cap in England’s quarter-final against Italy on Sunday.

The 31-year-old has been part of every England squad at a major tournament for the past decade, reaching the quarter-finals at Euro 2004 and at the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.

The former Arsenal left-back tasted glory with Chelsea this season after the Blues beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on penalties – and Cole is keen to enjoy similar success with the Three Lions at Euro 2012.

“There is unfinished business,” Cole told BBC Sport. “I have been lucky enough to play 97 times for England and hopefully I will get 100 in the final.”

“I have never had the joy of winning for my country and I am not getting too far ahead of myself or the team but so far it is going well.

“This is my fourth quarter-final now and I have bad memories of the others, so I want to look back at those and think about what I did and what could help me for this one.

“It [Sunday’s game] is a different game against a great team but the spirits are high and the lads are buzzing for the game, I am confident.

“We know it will be a tough game on Sunday but they say dreams come true and hopefully this can be one of my dreams.”

Pre-match facts: England v Italy

• Italy took nine attempts to beat England for the first time, Fabio Capello scoring in a 2-0 home friendly victory in 1973. The Azzurri nevertheless hold a slight head-to-head advantage with a record of W9 D6 L7.

• Although the nations first played in 1933 they did not meet in a competitive fixture until 1978 World Cup qualifying, trading 2-0 home wins – but it was Italy who made it to Argentina. The Azzurri have won four of their six competitive meetings, England just one.

• Hodgson has had coaching spells in Italy at Internazionale (1995-97, 1999) and Udinese Calcio (2001). In 1999, when serving briefly as caretaker coach back at Inter, he worked with Andrea Pirlo.

• Hodgson enjoyed a famous win against Juventus during Fulham’s run to the 2010 Europa League final, overturning a 3-1 first-leg loss with a 4-1 home victory in the round of 16. Claudio Marchisio played for Juventus in the first leg.

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