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Bitter Cole says Arsenal betrayed him

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Sep 11 (Reuters) England defender Ashley Cole has fanned the flames of his acrimonious departure to champions Chelsea by accusing former club Arsenal of betraying him.

The left back's move to Stamford Bridge was only sealed in the final throws of the August transfer window, ending a bitter saga that began back in January 2005 when Cole first met Chelsea representatives.

In his book My Defence, serialised by The Times, Cole slams the club he joined as a trainee in 1998 for throwing his loyalty ''back in my face''.

Cole, unhappy at his employers for not agreeing to meet his wage demands, launched a hard-hitting attack on Arsenal and in particular, vice-chairman David Dein.

''I feel betrayed and let down by a club I've given my heart and soul to. For me it was one person at the club doubting my loyalty.

And it was the final straw,'' Cole wrote.

''I'd had a vice-chairman and board who had thrown my loyalty back in my face... My love for Arsenal was soured.'' The 25-year-old Cole describes a series of confrontations with Dean and the bitterness he felt about leaving.

''My heart and soul was tied to Arsenal with a fisherman's knot.

I don't think even Houdini could have unravelled it. Not for one minute did I see myself leaving.

''There was only ever one club in England, let alone London, and that was Arsenal. That was before the 2004-05 season. That was before something precious was smashed into tiny pieces.'' Cole had been linked with a move across London ever since he was involved in the infamous ''tapping-up'' affair in January 2005 for which he and Chelsea were fined by the Premier League.

Arsenal appeared reluctant to offload Cole to their bitter rivals, with talks deadlocked despite a reported 31 million Dollar offer.

Cole's growing frustration was reflected by his unhappiness at the prospect of starting the season in north London.

''At one stage in mid-August I thought I'd have to walk back across a broken bridge and stay at Arsenal,'' he said.

''The thought depressed me, and it probably didn't do much for the boss (Arsene Wenger) either. I sensed he was sick and tired of the speculation.'' The move was finally sealed in a swap deal with France defender William Gallas and Cole made his Chelsea debut as a substitute in Saturday's 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic.

REUTERS AY BS1851

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