Every article about Ashley Cole includes this picture. It's quite funny. There are 2,200,000 pictures of Ashley Cole on the internet, but somehow, every writer seems to think that this photo sums up Ashley Cole perfectly.
For me, this photo shows the absolute folly of the man. He's been gifted with the ability to run very fast and kick a football. With those two talents, he was able to break into the Arsenal first team, win a couple of Premier League titles and go unbeaten in the league. He was touted as a future Arsenal captain, and was halfway towards becoming an Arsenal legend. He met, wooed and married probably the most beautiful woman in England. He became richer than his wildest dreams.
And then he crashed his Bentley over £5,000 a week, through a hissy-fit and fucked off to Chelsea. And everything fell apart. He's richer than ever before. But he's won no more trophies. He's been caught philandering so many times that his wife's filing for divorce. He's a key component of the most reviled side in England. He's lost everything that would've made him great as an Arsenal player.
That photo was taken at his apogee. Look at it closely. It's a photo-shoot for the National Lottery and it shows the virtues of conspicuous consumption. There's the trophy girlfriend, the trophy car and the misty smoke-machines of heaven. In this vision of paradise, Ashley Cole has it all - including a hilarious outfit.
Cherly Cole looks great. She always looks great. She's comfortable, in a pose that accentuates her legs and hips. She's in her element as the glamorous trophy girlfriend. But look at Ashley Cole. He's flat-footed, standing behind Cheryl, and leaning slightly towards her. He's self-conscious. Look at his face. Frozen, forced grin like the ones in school photos. Awkward as fuck. Look into his eyes. He's petrified. He's thinking, there is NO possible way this photo-shoot will come out good. Little did he know that this photo will follow him through the rest of his life, (and probably be laminated on his tombstone as well).
But he went through with it anyway. Was it pressure from his glamorous girlfriend? Was it pressure from a glamorous lifestyle? Was it a total brain-fade like the one that inflicts Fabianski on equally embarrassing situations? I don't know.
The interesting thing about that photo is that it seemed to have capture Ashley Cole at an epiphany. Sometimes you are blessed with moments when you can look at your life with complete honesty. In moments like these, you realise how fucked-up things really are, and how far you are from who you want to be. I imagine it's a bit like this for Ashley. How the hell did a kid like him end up doing a photo-op for the National Lottery, with a pop starlet on his arm, a Rolls in the background, and him dressed like body-double for Siegfried and Roy?
At this point, there were two possible outcomes for Ashley Cole. He can ditch the WAG, the Bentley and the tacky white shirts, and focus on his football and the Arsenal. Or he can continue down this path, marry the WAG, fuck off to Chelsea, fuck other women, and reveal himself as the most hated fucker in English football. As the Fray put it, he could drive until he lost control, or break with the ones he follows. Literally, in Ashley Cole's case.
It could've been so different. Oh well. Pride (or in Cole's case, a white lacy, unbuttoned shirt) cometh before a fall.