Cole in good shape for HK Sevens bid

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 April, 2010, 12:00am

Former Manchester United and England striker Andy Cole takes life easy these days - but still hits the gym four times a week.

The 38-year-old said yesterday he would be in good shape to lead the Cole All-Stars in the masters competition at the HKFC IP Global International Soccer Sevens at Hong Kong Football Club from May 14 to 16.

'My life is now very simple, I just enjoy it,' Cole, who now likes to be called Andrew, said. 'Family always comes first as I want to see my kid grow up. I take things easy and am happy to play a little football like this one coming up next month.

'I'm in the gym four times a week, so I keep myself in shape. I've got a charity game for United on May 1 so I'll be using that to get myself ready for the Soccer Sevens.'

Cole was guest of honour at yesterday's draw for the three-day tournament, which will feature 16 teams each in the main competition and the masters. He said he had little time to look around the city, which he last visited with United in a pre-season tour in 1999, when they beat South China 2-0. Cole scored the second goal after Terry Sheringham had opened the scoring.

'This is my second visit to Hong Kong, and I can't remember when I came here last time. It has to be 10 years ago. But it is always nice to come to this part of the world and it should be good fun when I come back next month. I think I have more time then to do some shopping,' Cole, who flies back to England today, said. Cole is one of the few players in England to have swept nearly every honour in the game, from the PFA Young Player of the Year award to the Uefa Champions League title. He also won five Premier League titles and two FA Cups with United, was capped 15 times for England and ranks second in the all-time list of top Premiership scorers, with 187 goals.

He no longer dons a track suit after quitting as a coach at Huddersfield Town and returning to United.

'I used to do a bit of work at Huddersfield but have stopped now. It is difficult to get into the coaching field and hopefully I can do a bit more next season. At the moment, I am doing a lot of work for Manchester United, ambassador work and corporate work as well, which I'm quite enjoying,' he said.

The Red Devils slipped up in the Premier League with a 0-0 draw to Blackburn at the weekend, but Cole said the title race wasn't over yet.

'It is going to be tough,' he said. 'They lost to Chelsea last week and dropped points against Blackburn on Sunday. Chelsea have the upper hand at the moment, but you never know, there might be a few more twists and turns.'

Dutch giants Ajax will make their debut in the Hong Kong tournament, along with English Premier League club Sunderland. They will be joined by Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Ham United.

Last year's winners, Celtic, will return to defend their title, while the team they beat in the final, Old Firm rivals Rangers, will also be back.

Ajax rank as one of the world's greatest clubs, with four European Cup triumphs and countless domestic titles to their name.

'It is no exaggeration to say the Ajax youth academy has produced more truly great players than any other club in world football, including the legendary Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert, to name just a few,' Soccer Sevens chairman Tony Bratsanos said. 'We are extremely excited to be seeing the next generation of Ajax stars in action here in Hong Kong.'