'Invisible' Cole jealous of Henry treatment

September 11, 2006

England full-back Ashley Cole has revealed how Arsenal's favourable treatment of Thierry Henry was one of the reasons why he wanted to leave the club for Premiership champions Chelsea.

Henry, Arsenal's captain and talisman, eventually agreed to stay at the club but Cole felt like the 'invisible man' as he had not been treated in the same way by Gunners officials or fans.

The 25-year-old left-back also revealed how he `haggled' over £5,000 after Arsenal had dropped from their original weekly salary offer, and had his loyalty questioned by the club's backroom staff.

However, in an extract from his book serialised in The Times, the difference in how he was treated compared to Henry appeared to be one of the main reasons for him to seek a transfer.

He said: 'The club made Thierry feel wanted and special, wooing him, wining and dining him, speaking in public about how much they want him to stay, going on a deliberate charm offensive.

'But me? I didn't have one dinner, one meeting or one phone call from anyone. That's not sour grapes, it's just a sad truth. The truth is that the Gunners had done nothing all season to hold on to me.'

He added: My worst fears were confirmed when, as Thierry and I sat in the centre circle after the final whistle, his name was sung from the rooftops while my contribution was recognised by a deafening silence.

'As his chants faded away we waited for mine. And we waited. And there was nothing. `They're not bothered about me', I said, resigned to the fact. It was like I was the invisible man.'

Cole was offered a new £60,000-a-week deal in 2004 but when negotiations opened, the figure had dropped by £5,000, with the defender adding: 'At a board meeting held two days before our 1-0 away defeat at Bolton in January, it was decided the maximum offer should be £55,000 a week.

'I don't believe the board gave a damn about keeping me. It preferred to haggle over a difference of £5,000.'

Cole's relationship with the club deteriorated to the point of fitness coach Tony Colbert questioned whether he was telling the truth about a thigh injury.

He added: 'That's when he said it, `what do you expect me to do, Ash, when you tell me you're okay and then come in here like you've just been shot? Be honest with me, are you just making out that it's worse than it actually is because you've got an eye on the World Cup?'

'That was it. I blew my lid. `What!' I shouted, barely able to keep a lid on it, `I need to play for Arsenal to go to the World Cup, so why would I hold back? The more I hold back, the less chance I've got of going to Germany! And you are insulting me'.'

'For me it was one more person at the club doubting my loyalty. And it was the final straw.'