Ashley Cole will earn his 100th international cap when England face Brazil at Wembley tonight, but the magic 100-club is not the only exclusive club that the defender will join.
Should Cole fail to score, he will become just the second outfield player in history to reach a century of caps for a top 20 ranked country to have never scored.
Out of 67 players to have reached 100 caps, only Sweden’s Bjorn Nordqvist failed to score, with his 115th and final international appearance coming in 1978.
Nordqvist played 115 times without finding the back of the net, so Cole still has a chance to score before he overtakes the Swede. However, the Chelsea left-back is not known for his prolific goalscoring record for his club, having netted just seven goals for the Blues – all of them coming in the league.
Having scored nine goals for former club Arsenal – with one coming in a Champions League tie, the possibility that he will get off the mark tonight is not a crazy one, but it is more than likely that Cole will reach the 100 mark with a big zero next to his name in the goals scored column. He is priced at 19/1 with bookmakers to get on the scoresheet and 40/1 to be the opening goalscorer against Brazil.
Of course, England’s most capped player remains Peter Shilton, and although the goalkeeper didn’t score for his country, he still managed to get his goal tally off the mark against Southampton while playing for Leicester City.
There is some who feel that Cole should no longer be first-choice in the left-back role for Roy Hodgson’s side, with the ever improving Leighton Baines breathing heavily down Cole’s neck. With Baines’ set-piece ability, he certainly is a more attacking option, having already scored for the Three Lions in just 13 appearances.
However, Cole has established himself as one of the leading left-backs in the world, and the achievements to his name certainly back up that argument. Three Premier League trophies – two of those with Arsenal which includes ‘The Invincibles’ season – seven FA Cup’s, a League Cup and the famous Champions League victory with Chelsea last season leaves Cole as one of the most successful Englishmen to have played the game.
And although he may receive a mixed reception when he runs out tonight, there is no doubting that fans will let him off if he never scores for England, as long as he demonstrates the same commitment and skill that he has done in each of his 99 previous caps.