"In my mind, he's the best left-back that's ever played for England," said Stuart Pearce, the former England defender and now Under-21 national coach.
Given his England debut by Sven-Göran Eriksson in a friendly against Albania on 28 March 2001, Ashley Cole made his 100th appearance for the Three Lions in Wednesday's 2-1 win against Brazil at Wembley – part of the celebrations to mark the Football Association's 150th anniversary.
"I was [emotional]," he said after becoming England's seventh centurion. "I'd like to thank the fans, because I didn't really expect the reception I got. I'm delighted and overwhelmed: I'm kind of speechless.
"It was nice to have my mum and brother and all my friends here; it was a great night for me. It's been hard growing up the way I did. I never thought I would get to this stage in my career and in my life, so I'm very happy with what I achieved."
The 32-year-old's career encompasses three FIFA World Cup final tournaments and two UEFA European Championships, as UEFA.com recalls in this collection of photos.
© 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.