Did Joe Cole do his potential? According to the man who helped to renew him, West Ham legend Tony Carr, Cole's sparkling resume, answered that question emphatically.
It is one that has repeatedly arisen during the last years of Coles career and resurrected on Tuesday almost immediately after retirement after 20 years as a professional.
An incredibly skilled game champion who can do things that others would not even dream about was the buzz around Cole as early as his middle of the teenager tremendous because of his youth soccer performances for club and country.
He was noticed next Paul Gascoigne, had an Adidas boot deal at the age of 14 to compete with those handed over to senior Premier League players and embarrassed West Ham's first teamers when training them as a schoolboy.
Then something seemed possible.
And Carr insisted: "He has really met his potential. There are no two ways.
"Look at his resume. Underprestation? Christ, there are many players who would have liked to have achieved half of it."
Then Hammers scout Dennis Coxall discovered Cole playing in Islington and excitedly reported to Carr: "I've just seen the best player under 12, under 13 as I've ever seen."
West Ham's scouting Jimmy Hampson quickly arranged for Cole to come in and Carr recalled: "The first time we watched him, it was just about how we let him stay.
"It was his dribbling ability. Every time he got the ball, he drove on players and beat them like a young schoolboy relatively easily and was very excited to watch. He made bold things. Things made you laugh. He was cheeky so that say. "
Like someone who is privileged to witness him, especially as a rising star, Carr has his own favorite jaw-falling Cole moment.
He said, "It sounds a little stupid, but if you remember in the movie Escape to Victory when Ossie Ardiles in the slow motion, got the ball and hit it over his head and across the opponent's head and ran around the other side, Jo did it in a friendly game when he was about 13. It made you guess. You could not believe it. "
Cole won his six major honors and most of his 56 England hats after joining Chelsea in 2003.
He said: "Winning trophies at Chelsea were especially special. These memories will live with me forever."
But it was also the place where he became more effective team player than an individual wizard under Jose Mourinho, while he could never recover from a crusade he suffered in 2009.
It is a testament to his ability and love for the game, which despite following the following string, Cole recovered his career in Liverpool, Lille, West Ham, Aston Villa, Coventry and Tampa Bay Rowdies after leaving Chelsea 2010 before retirement at the age of 37 years.
Cole is now planning to go into coaching and have tasted it in Tampa.
He added: "I feel I can offer a lot. Lending my experience to help other young football players to achieve their dreams, just like I did, is a big passion for me."
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