Ex-Arsenal chief David Dein issues apology to Ashley Cole over exit

Ashley Cole on Arsenal's failures: "You've got to laugh"

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Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has issued an apology to Ashley Cole for not doing more to keep him at the club. Dein has admitted regret over the saga which led to Cole leaving for Chelsea in 2006.

The former England left-back came through the academy at Arsenal and won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the club. However, he left in hugely acrimonious circumstances in the final season at Highbury.

Cole was not impressed with the new contract offer Arsenal had put on the table for him to sign. Dein has gone into detail about how he found out Chelsea were “tapping up” Cole before he eventually made the move across London.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Dein said: “We should never have lost him in my opinion. His contract came up for re-negotiation and we didn’t offer him the right sort of money and meanwhile Chelsea did.

“And then there was this clandestine meeting. I got a call one day from a journalist from the News of the World at the time.

“He said ‘we’ve got a hot story off the press that your player Ashley Cole is actually being tapped up by Chelsea, I think you should come and see us’. So I went down to their offices and they showed a signed statement from a waiter in a restaurant, in a hotel where Ashley Cole was meeting Chelsea.

“He was an Arsenal fan, the waiter, clearly, and he gave the story to the News of the World and it broke there and then. That really was the end of that.”

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Cole went on to win multiple honours with Chelsea, including four league titles and the Champions League in 2012. Dein says he regrets not offering more money at the time and has apologised to Cole.

He added: “It was a great shame because Ashley was homegrown, he was an Arsenal boy, and I regret we didn’t do enough at the time to keep him at the club. It was also at the time of building the stadium and financing, the tensions were raging about how we were going to finance the new stadium and we were watching every penny.

“Consequently we didn’t do enough to keep him and I regret that with hindsight. So Ashley, if you’re listening, I’m sorry.”

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