The subject of Joe Cole has been at the heart of many arguments between West Ham United and Chelsea fans over the years.
Cole famously started off at West Ham amid much hype.
The ‘conjurer’ as he was dubbed by then Hammers teammate Ian Wright went on to make 187 appearances for West Ham over two spells, scoring 18 goals.
Chelsea move threatened West Ham hero status
Cole was adored by West Ham fans for choosing them as a youngster when he was one of the most coveted players around.
But he risked his hero status with the Hammers by joining bitter rivals Chelsea.
Cole even celebrated wildly on scoring against West Ham for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The skilful midfield star made more appearances for Chelsea than any other club.
It was also the most successful spell of his career. Cole won three Premier League titles, two FA Cups, the League Cup and Community Shield at Stamford Bridge.
The midfield magician went some way to restoring his popularity with the Hammers faithful by returning to the club for a second spell under Sam Allardyce.
Cole always had Hammers in the heart
It sticks in the craw of some West Ham fans that Cole is best remembered for his time at Chelsea.
After all he was the poster boy of the Hammers’ golden generation which never fulfilled its enormous potential.
So there is a heartwarming twist for West Ham fans as Cole pulls the curtain down on his career.
Despite all the Chelsea glory, Cole referenced a key moment during his early days at West Ham which proved one of the most important of his career.
“There are key moments in every professional’s career,” Cole said in his statement.
‘Senior pro at West Ham was right’
“One of mine came when I was a young West Ham player.
“A senior pro, who was nearing his own retirement, said to me: ‘Enjoy every game, young man. It goes by in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss it badly after it’s gone.’
“He was right.
“Those words resonate even more now than they did back then. I tried to play and live by his advice every single day because being a professional footballer is an absolute honour.”