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Gerrard hails 'phenomenal' Cole

ESPN staff
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Gerrard won FA Player of the Year on Sunday

Steven Gerrard has called on the fans to show their appreciation for Ashley Cole's "phenomenal" England career as the left-back prepares to win his 100th cap in Wednesday's home friendly against Brazil.

Gerrard, the England captain, has played alongside a number of star names at international level as part of the country's "Golden Generation", but he feels Cole may have been the most effective during that time.

"If the crowd take a moment to think about what he has given in an England shirt over the last 12 years, it's been phenomenal," Gerrard, who made it to a century of caps himself in the friendly defeat to Sweden in November, told the media. "He has been probably the most consistent player I've played with during my time.

"It's going to be Ashley's night if he's picked and the players are certainly going to show him a hell of a lot of support. Let's hope the fans do as well. He deserves to be a 100-cap player, there's no two ways about that."

Cole was memorably booed by the home fans at Wembley in 2008 when his errant backpass allowed Kazakhstan to score in an eventual 5-1 win for England, but Gerrard is confident that there is now an appreciation of the Chelsea defender.

"I think there have been years when he has been the best left-back in the world and we've been lucky to have him," he added. "I think the supporters realise that as well."

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, who played memorable roles at left-back in the 1990 World Cup and Euro '96 campaigns, believes Cole has established himself as the best to play the position for the country.

"In my eyes he is the best left-back who has ever played for England," Pearce said. "What I'd say about Ashley is people don't realise how dedicated he is, but you only realise that when you are on the inside with him in a squad."

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