Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rowdies introduce midfielder Joe Cole

ST. PETERSBURG — Rowdies owner Bill Edwards did not mince words when talking about the signing of former English Premier League midfielder Joe Cole.

"I think this is the most significant player to be signed in the NASL in its history,'' Edwards said.

Cole, 34, was officially introduced to media and fans in a news conference Wednesday morning at the Mahaffey Theater. His contract with Tampa Bay runs through the 2017 season, with a club option for 2018.

He arrived in St. Petersburg on Tuesday night after completing the season with Coventry City in the English First Division. He's scheduled to practice with the team today and Friday and, according to coach Stuart Campbell, will play Saturday at home against Rayo Oklahoma City.

"I could've had two weeks off to freshen up, but I wanted to hit the ground running,'' Cole said.

Cole has had a distinguished career in England's highest division. He started in the EPL with West Ham United in 1998 before joining Chelsea in 2003. He stayed with Chelsea through the 2010 season. He also played for Liverpool and Lille in France's Ligue 1 before joining Coventry City.

He has 56 caps as a member of England's national team and appeared in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. He has 10 career goals as a national team member. In his club career he has 53 goals, including 28 with Chelsea.

Cole, who was born in the Paddington area of London, has been on teams that won three FA Cups and two League Cups. With Chelsea, he helped win three EPL titles.

"I still believe Joe can perform at the very highest level,'' said Campbell, who played against Cole in England. "I look at the players who are in the Premier League right now, and Joe can still do the job at that level.''

Edwards said the club started courting Cole about six months ago, when the Rowdies made a trip to England to play exhibition matches. Cole made a trip with his family to St. Petersburg in February to watch exhibition matches between the Rowdies and Major League Soccer teams.

While he had never been to the bay area, Cole said he was already familiar with the club.

"I heard of the Tampa Bay Rowdies because of Rodney Marsh,'' Cole said, referring to the former Rowdies star of the 1970s who, like Cole, came to the bay area after starring in England. "He was my grandparents' favorite player. The Rowdies are actually a big name in England. And when I came over here for a visit, I fell in love with the place and thought it would be a lovely place to play and live.''

The Rowdies are hoping Cole performs better than last year's big acquisition, former U.S. national team member Freddy Adu. Adu has not played in a match this season despite being eligible.

Cole scored one goal in 15 appearances with Coventry City. The Rowdies (2-1-2) have scored only four goals in five matches and are hoping Cole will provide an offensive spark.

"We're thrilled to have him here,'' Edwards said. "I think he'll have a huge impact on the rest of the team. We have a great team, this is just adding to it. We intend to add more. We are not done.''

Tampa Bay Rowdies introduce midfielder Joe Cole 05/11/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.

  3. Rays journal: Rookie Jacob Faria continues to show veteran poise

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles threatened in the first inning and the second. They loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning with the top of the order up and seemed poised for a big inning. But those opportunities produced only one run because Rays rookie RHP Jacob Faria kept his composure and got the …

    Jacob Faria goes a career-high 71/3 innings, staying composed when the Orioles threaten.
  4. Rays vs. Orioles, 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field


    Today: vs. Orioles

    12:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

    Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field box office,, surcharge of up to $5 within 5 hours of game time.

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead U.S. soccer


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

    Among some other unmentionables.

    Bruce Arena