No more Mr Nice Guy!
WEST HAM S England striker Carlton Cole has vowed to throw off his nice guy reputation and prove himself a ruthless international-class forward - starting with Saturday s World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan, writes DAVE EVANS. The 25-year-old centre forward
WEST HAM'S England striker Carlton Cole has vowed to throw off his nice guy reputation and prove himself a ruthless international-class forward - starting with Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan, writes DAVE EVANS.
The 25-year-old centre forward grabbed a dozen goals in claret and blue this season, his best ever return, but he is determined to do whatever it takes to become even more prolific.
"I've been told that I'm too nice," revealed the former Chelsea man. "As a person, I'm too nice of a guy. I'm not selfish at all and that's the way I was on the pitch as well.
"I know I've go to try to be a bit more selfish, a bit more of a nutter, and I'm just trying to be aggressive at the right times."
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Cole is hoping to prove himself in the next week when England face World Cup qualifiers against the two minnows of Group Six - Kazakhstan and tiny Andorra - and it will be an ideal chance for Cole to bag his first goal in international colours.
The secret of Cole's success for the Hammers last season was his willingness to work hard on his game in training, and with the help of manager Gianfranco Zola, he has become a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League.
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He is now keen to continue his learning process under national team boss Fabio Capello.
"It is a massive opportunity for me with England," he said. "Fabio Capello has told me he wants me to work on a few things like outmuscling defenders in the box and using my physical presence.
"I need to shoot quicker instead of dwelling on the ball and these are the kind of things that come with confidence. I know what I need to do and hopefully I can keep on the right track.
"When you get to that level, you're supposed to be a finished article, but I'm far from that."
That may be so, but Cole has improved leaps and bounds from the lacklustre striker who became a victim of the boo-boys when he first came to Upton Park. Gradually, he has won over the fans to become one of the crowd favourites, and it has been a run of games in the side over the last two campaigns that has enabled him to build his confidence.
"This is my second season playing week-in, week-out," he explained. "Last season, Alan Curbishley gave me a great opportunity to play regularly, but I wasn't scoring goals. This year I've been watching DVDs of other players and taking the things they do and putting them on the pitch on Saturdays."
So who are the players that Cole looks at in order to improve his own game?
"There are lots of forwards that I watch," he revealed. "Didier Drogba, Kevin Davies - he's one of the greatest in the Premier League at holding the ball up - Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"They are all similar players to me, big powerful strikers who can cause defenders a lot of problems.
"I talk to Drogba a lot and he feels that I can progress even further, and I chat with John Carew a lot as well. He scores goals everywhere he goes and hopefully I can do that one day."
West Ham fans will be hoping that Cole is going nowhere at the moment except off with England.
He will compete with Peter Crouch, Emile Heskey, Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney for a place in the starting line-up for the trip to Kazakhstan on Saturday (kick-off 4pm), while the Andorra clash is at Wembley next Wedn-esday, with an 8.15pm start.
Cole has certainly deserved a chance to add to his two international caps, and if he needs to become more of an aggressive nutter to take his game to the next level, then so be it.