LIVERPOOL midfielder Joe Cole is looking forward to the challenge of playing for his new club, insisting his move to Merseyside was decided purely on football terms.
Much was made of the wage demands — reportedly £90,000-a-week — the England international was making, having become a free agent following his release from Chelsea.
And having previously played for West Ham, he was expected to remain in London, with Arsenal and Tottenham both interested, but was convinced Anfield was the place to start afresh.
Cole said he remembered the atmosphere when he played at the ground for Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final of 2005, which Liverpool won on penalties before going on to lift the trophy in Istanbul, and was looking forward to experiencing that regularly.
“This is a massive club. I tried to take everything out of the equation, take the financial and location side out and just thought in football terms,” said the England international, who has signed a four-year contract.
“I thought about the semi-final of the Champions League in 2005 when I ran onto the field and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
“I was thinking about playing in that atmosphere every week and that swung it for me. I know I have made the right decision and I am looking forward to the challenge.
“I have played in London all my life. I could have stayed at Chelsea because the fans loved me and I won things, but I wanted to challenge myself and when I knew Liverpool were interested it was a no-brainer because they are the biggest club in the country.”
The signing of Cole is seen as something of a coup for manager Roy Hodgson, who has only been in charge since July 1 after replacing former boss Rafael Benitez.
Yesterday he also completed a deal for 18-year-old Rangers defender Danny Wilson worth in the region of £2m, which could rise to £3m.
Captain Steven Gerrard, linked with a summer move to Real Madrid, committed himself to the club on Tuesday after talks with Hodgson, who also travelled to Ibiza last week to speak with striker Fernando Torres during his holiday after Spain’s World Cup win.
Cole listened to Hodgson’s ideas for taking the club forward after a disappointing seventh-placed Premier League finish and leaped at the chance to work with his compatriot.
“I had a chat with the gaffer and was impressed with him,” he added.
“He explained where the club wants to go. I jumped on board because with the players we have here and the players we are looking to bring in, it’s definitely going in the right direction.
“We have talked about positions in the team and he wants to play and I just want to be part of the team.
“I want to go out there and to run and fight for the lads and the fans.
“That’s what I’ll always do and Roy is the man who can make sure we are a nice unit as a team.”
Cole is confident he can fit in alongside England colleagues Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson, Torres and Liverpool’s other stars.
“I am used to playing with world-class players,” he added.
“I am excited about playing with Fernando and I know Stevie, Carra and Jonno from the England set-up.
“Pepe Reina, Alberto Aquilani—– there are a lot of big-name players here but I will need time to settle down and relax into the club.
“I can guarantee the fans I will be giving 100% every game.”
Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs says it is now “dangerous” to rule Liverpool out of making a challenge for the Premier League title.
“Liverpool have a new manager and difficult to say what they are going to do, ” said Giggs. “Two years ago they were close to winning the Premiership. It is dangerous to write off a team with Liverpool’s history. They are a huge club and a massive team.”
*Liverpool made a low-key start to life under Hodgson last night with Cole looking from the sidelines as the Reds drew 0-0 in a friendly with Grasshoppers in Zurich.
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