Drogba my inspiration - Cole
England hopeful Carlton Cole's aim is to mature into a player with the quality of Didier Drogba.
Last Updated: 04/09/09 11:01am
England's Carlton Cole uses his long-time friend Didier Drogba as his inspiration after putting his upturn in fortunes down to a new-found maturity.
The West Ham striker is in the England squad for Saturday's home friendly with Slovenia and Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Croatia.
It appears he is finally fulfilling the early promise that led to then Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri spotlighting Cole as a star of the future.
Ironically it was the arrival of Drogba that led to the young England player falling down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge but that has never stopped him being a massive admirer of the Ivory Coast striker. The two are also still in regular contact.
"Didier Drogba is a brilliant player, a world-class player," said Cole. "He's a more mature player than I am and I just need to look at the way he plays and hopefully become as good.
"I don't want to be similar to him, but I want to be at that level where I'm confident in what I can do.
"I know every time he goes onto the field he knows what he's going to do and he knows he's going to cause all these defenders havoc. So that's the level I want to get to."
Cole concedes he was not professional enough in his approach during the early part of his career.
He said: "I would put what happened with my career down to not concentrating, thinking life was going to be easy, and not being a professional basically.
"Ranieri said I was 'his lion' but, when he said that, Abramovich came in and signed all these multi-million pound players including Didier (Drogba) and that pushed me out.
"I had to go on loan. I was a bit peed off about it and, being young, I didn't see the bigger picture. I didn't really take it seriously after that.
"If I'd go on loan I was saying 'it doesn't matter because I'll go back to Chelsea and make a go of it again'. Then I went on loan again the season after and it was another blow for me to stomach.
"It's true I once turned up for a game at half-time. I'm not proud of it. All that's behind me now. I wasn't professional enough back then and didn't take my football seriously enough.
"I've now come to terms with how to conduct myself off the field and on the field. Hopefully I can progress from now on."