Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has apologized to Ashley Cole live on talkSPORT for ‘not doing enough’ to keep him at the club.
Dein, who was a constant at Arsenal between 1983 and 2007, oversaw some of the club’s most glorious years and its game-changing move to the Emirates.
That departure from Highbury in 2006 came before Premier League television rights skyrocketed completely, making matchday much more crucial, and the Gunners having to pinch themselves to get over the line.
A victim of this more frugal era in north London was the product of academy and England international Cole, who became one of the best left-backs of his generation.
City rivals Chelsea poached the defender at the start of their high spending era in 2006 and the rest was history with him winning a league and Champions League title at Stamford Bridge and becoming a mainstay of England.
Dein revealed the inside story behind Cole’s departure from Arsenal on talkSPORT – which was decided by an unsuspecting waiter.
“We should never have lost him in my opinion,” Dein said.
“His contract was renegotiated and we didn’t offer him the right kind of money and Chelsea did.
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“There was this clandestine meeting, I got a call one day from a reporter from The News of the World and he said we had a hot story in the press that your player was being exploited by Chelsea, I think you should come and see us.
“So I went down to the offices and they said here is a signed statement from the waiter at the hotel where Ashley Cole was meeting Chelsea and he was an Arsenal fan – the waiter clearly – and he told the story to The News of the World and they broke it on the spot.
“It was really the end of that there and it was really a shame because Ashely was a local, he was an Arsenal boy and I regret that we didn’t do enough at the time to keep him. at the club.
“It was also when we were talking about building the stadium and the finances and tensions were raging over how we were going to finance the new stadium.
“We were watching every penny and as a result we didn’t do enough to keep it and I regret that in hindsight.
“So Ashley, if you’re listening, I’m sorry.”