FROM the second he bounded into Liverpool’s Swiss training camp, daring to dream and bursting with ambition, a specific date has been marked in Joe Cole’s diary.
While Liverpudlians have been eagerly awaiting the advent of the new Premier League season thanks to the freshness it will bring and the opportunity it provides, August 15 has become as important to Cole as December 25 is to all children.
Having just endured two of the most frustrating campaigns of his career – a slightly curious statement to make when you consider he became a Double winner in May – Cole cannot wait to embark on what could turn out to be a thrilling adventure.
As the most vaunted of Liverpool’s five summer signings to date, all eyes will be on Cole when the Roy Hodgson era begins in front of a capacity Anfield crowd – not to mention a global television audience – against Arsenal on Sunday.
Right from the first moment Cole has given the impression of a natural entertainer and one of the most gifted players of his generation, the stage is set for him to flourish.
“I’m so impressed with the club, the people and the city,” he said. “I’m proud to be here and am looking to do well now. Being in the city, you get a real feel for the club. You don’t realise how big it is until you actually come and spend a few days here.
“I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait for the first game. Its always been a great atmosphere here and it will be nice to have the fans behind me. I just feel I have done the right thing and I am very happy here.”
With players speaking about arriving for work with smiles on their faces, suddenly supporters are casting an eye over Hodgson’s squad and coming to the conclusion that a Champions League place might not be beyond them.
Of course, obtaining it will prove easier said than done but one of the reasons Cole joined Liverpool was to add to his already substantial medal haul and he wants to be part of a team that gets spoken in revered terms like the great sides of the past.
“There was a lot of difference and difficulties last season but we are starting afresh and we will be doing everything we can,” said Cole, who immediately endeared himself to the Kop when starring in the 2-0 win over FC Rabotnicki eight days ago.
“We need to build and take our time. When you play for Chelsea, winning the league is expected every year. When you come here the whole place is willing it to happen. You can feel that energy and I just want to do my best for the club.
“If that means we can put some pots on the table then that will be great. You just look at the history of the place and it is great that I am pulling on the same shirt as people like Kenny Dalglish, John Barnes – great players.
“I need to be playing regularly. I am 28 now and coming into my peak years. I want to be at a club where I am on the pitch as much as possible, helping the team to really do something special. With a few games under my belt, I’ll be firing on all cylinders.
“In the position I play you need to be on the pitch, probing for 60 or 70 minutes, and then the game opens up and then you can do something. I need to feel my confidence again, get back to my best, but hopefully I can give my best years to this club.”
Which could mean the next four seasons are his happiest; Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti was clearly suspicious of Cole’s worth but he is ready to show the sceptics he can shine both as an individual and in a collective.
“I had great times at Chelsea but I’m just looking to enjoy my football and help this club win things,” said Cole, a three-time winner of the Premier League. “Hopefully people will appreciate what I do on the pitch, not just the fact I’ve signed for the club.”
“It has to be a team thing. We have to all come together as a club and a team and do it for the fans and hopefully we can all have a good season together. I will be giving everything every game.
“Hopefully I will have time to settle in and we will be successful together – I am sure of that. I wouldn’t have come to the club if I didn’t think we could do things and I just need time and games and we will all do it together.
“We know we’ve still got a lot to work on before we play Arsenal and we have got to come together and continue to improve.
“We’ve still got Fernando (Torres), Pepe (Reina) and the other lads to come back, so we will get even more stronger.”
They are impressive words but now the talking must stop, as Liverpool must show when they cross the white line on Sunday that they are ready to move forward again – and if Joe Cole has his way, that is precisely what will happen.