Here’s what the former Manchester United star had to say during an interview with a few reporters in KL last week.
Andy was here to take part in the Malaysian leg of the Masters Football tournament, which features former English Premier League footballers, and he scored the winning penalty in the final against Liverpool.
What have you been up to since retiring from football?
I have a few things going on. I’m constantly busy. You need to keep yourself busy after football, or else you’ll go mad.
I’m involved in the England 2018 bid, and I got my own company with a few guys, a lifestyle concierge service. I’ve been watching my kids (two sons) grow up – my son plays football as well – and trying to keep my wife happy, so yeah, my hands are definitely full at the moment…
Is your son going to be a professional footballer?
Who knows? He gives it a good go, he enjoys it. In the years to come, you never know if he’ll make the grade, but if he keeps going the way he’s going he has a very good chance, definitely.
You recently said in your column for the Independent that Sir Alex Ferguson gave you a bit of the hairdryer recently for not finishing your coaching badges. Does he still scare you?
Oh yeah… he told me to stop messing around in no uncertain terms. Told me I need to get my badges. I’ll be starting next month after the Masters.
I haven’t seen many of my teammates from Untied. The Masters will be my first time seeing Ronny (Johnsen) and Jesper (Blomqvist) since my playing days, so I’m really looking forward to it.
What do you think makes Masters Football so appealing to former footballers?
This year’s gonna be my debut… I’ve been out of football for a year. It’s a case of getting back into football banter, which you always miss when you’re retired from football. I’m really looking forward to it.
When you retire from football you always want to play at an intense level. I’ve watched the Masters and it’s very intense – tempers get frayed and (the players) still want to win football matches. Regardless of what level you play at, that’s the way it is. That’s why I enjoy it – the players enjoy it, but they still want to win.
Is there a strike partnership in the EPL now that can match what you had with Dwight Yorke?
Errr…. No. I think the game’s played differently now. I think if someone could have a partnership like me and Dwight had, people would pay a helluva lot of money for that. You know, to get goals, and have a sustained partnership whereby it works, and you’re guaranteed to get yourself a certain amount of goals season in, season out… There’d be a helluva lot of money paid for that. It’s difficult to have partnerships like that now.
An ex-Rangers player, Latapy, can’t remember his first name, said you and Yorke were the best strike partnership ever…
It was Russell, Russell Latapy. Well, I’d have to say thank you to Russell… I thought me and Dwight were very, very fortunate with the partnership we had on the pitch. If someone says that, then I’d have to take it very gracefully. He was a very good player.
Why didn’t your partnership with Ruud van Nistelrooy work out?
I think me and van Nistelrooy were the same players. He was a goalscorer and I was a goalscorer, and you can’t have two of them in the same team. That’s what mum used to say to me when I was younger – two bulls in one pen don’t work. That’s why I left… But that’s football.
What do you think of Roy Keane’s management career so far?
I think Roy’s his own man. And I think once he turns results around for the team, he’ll be fine.
How do you rate England’s World Cup chances under Fabio Capello?
England will be up there, just like any other top team. It’s a difficult tournament to win, because everyone wants to win it. It’s not gonna be easy for any team to win the World Cup, and you need a bit of luck in it as well.
When Italy won (in 2006) they needed a bit of luck – didn’t play the most attractive football, but they was very regimented in their style, knew what they wanted to do and went about winning it. That’s the way football is.
What do you think about the current Manchester United squad?
It’s very, very good. I think they’ve prove that over the last two years. They’ve got to two European Cup finals – one won, lost the other – and won the Premiership. I think when you play for Manchester United, that’s what you need to do – win football matches, win Championships and get to European Cup finals; and they’re doing that.
* Now here’s where things got a bit tense… One of the reporters decided to pursue a particular topic, but Andy took issue with what the reporter seemed to be implying about the excessive lifestyles of footballers…
Do you think that players are getting paid too much?
People get paid what people deserve they should get paid. For me to sit here and say they’re getting paid too much… (shrugs) No. In my day, people said the same thing – We were getting paid too much.
Everything’s relative, obviously. But do you think the current generation of EPL stars, they’ll just be enjoying themselves in some holiday islands (when they retire) and not need to play in the Masters…
(Cole cuts in) Like who? Like who?
… the big stars who are earning 100,000 pounds a week…
Like who? What clubs?
… John Terry, and Frank Lampard…
(Cuts in again) So when you see John Terry and Frank Lampard play, do they look like they’re not bothered about football to you? What do you think?
… obviously the passion is very high now…
The passion runs high because they wanna win football matches. When they retire, regardless of whether they were earning 100, 200, 300 grand a week, that’s what they earned when they’s playing because they play with a passion to win football matches. When they retire, they retire however they feel they want to. If they can retire on a desert island, that’s because of what they did when they was playing.
If they show passion, if they wanna win football matches, for me that’s what it’s all about. I’m not gonna look at them and say “they didn’t try”.
Ianyway, I couldn’t agree more. Modern day footballers are paid a lot to perform at the highest level, and they are under constant pressure to produce performances worthy of their pay-scale – which means incredible amounts of work in training and in the gym, not to mention the discipline they have to observe in their personal lives.
So as long as they are giving it their best and producing results like a proper professional in any other industry, they deserve whatever they’re getting paid.
Plus, Andy Cole has been there right at the top of the game, so he knows what he’s talking about; and he, for one, has always played with a passion to win football matches.