Considered one of the best defenders of his generation, Cole  has been left out of manager Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad – which is due to be announced today.

Hodgson described it as one of his “hardest” decisions.

“Among many difficult decisions I have had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest,” he told the FA’s website.

Hodgson told the 33-year-old he was putting his faith in youth, with an eye on both this summer’s World Cup and Euro 2016.

His107 caps put him fifth in England’s all-time appearances list.

“I got the call from Roy and agree the England team should be about the young players. I think it best I retire from the England team now,” Cole tweeted. “We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything.”

Cole’s Chelsea contract expires in the summer and after limited action this term – which no doubt influenced Hodgson’s decision – his future is likely to be away from Stamford Bridge.

 Image via Getty