Danny Welbeck has got the ability to go all the way. His lively display and opening goal for Manchester United in their League Cup win at Barnsley on Tuesday was the latest impressive contribution in a fledgling career and I know Sir Alex Ferguson thinks he is good enough to have an outside chance of gate-crashing England's World Cup squad.
He is tall and quick with great movement and technique. But what sets him apart is his attitude. Too often these days, in football just as in society at large, young people have a small amount of success and think they have cracked it. They get cocky and above themselves and it's a problem. But that is a million miles from what Danny, 18, is like. He is one of the most level headed kids I've known. He's very self-critical too, perhaps too much so. I still spend a fair amount of time around United and I know Danny gets very disappointed with himself when he feels he hasn't shone. I have said to him a number of times that he must not beat himself up, but he's a perfectionist.
When I was pretty much the same age that Danny is now, I was at Arsenal under George Graham, and very much on the fringe of a team where Alan Smith and Paul Merson were scoring the goals, and Perry Groves was among the other strikers. I felt I was good enough to be playing, but wasn't getting the break. I wasn't the player for George, who was not really my cup of tea either, so I went out on loan, then moved on. I can't say things worked out too badly.
All I can say to Danny is the most obvious sign that he is on the right track is that he is getting picked to play in United's first team, and they are hardly struggling for world-class players! He is getting his chance and he will take it, of that I'm sure.
Danny is one among a growing group of fantastic young English players coming up. Jack Wilshere at Arsenal, 17, is another. I have watched him play a few times and his balance is frightening. I saw him in last year's FA Youth Cup against Liverpool and he was unplayable; his awareness of space, and what he can do with the ball. Also at Arsenal there is Theo Walcott who shows all the signs of being up there, when he finds the best position.
It has often been said that an influx of foreign players is damaging English talent and that is too huge a debate to have here. But what seems obvious to me is that the best will find a way, and that those English players who do make it into Premier League teams are having to be really special to do so, which is no bad thing.
Personal bias aside, England deserve to host the 2018 finals
I'm proud to be among England's 2018 World Cup bid ambassadors, along with Michael Ballack, Robinho, Alan Shearer, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and a bunch of others.
There are good emotional reasons why England should stage the tournament; since 1966 alone it's been to Germany (twice), Spain, Italy and France. So it would be good to have it back in the home of football after so long.
But let's leave the emotion aside. England has got the best infrastructure, huge support for the game, and is way ahead of any other nation as the melting pot for world football. Look at any Premier League game on any day to see that.
In the course of my duties as an ambassador, whatever they happen to be, I'll be telling people that – not because I have to, but because it's true.
To whoever stole my car...
Irony: I was robbed last week doing charity work! I was at an event organised by the Professional Footballers' Association and staged at the Soccer Dome at the Trafford Centre. I was there as a guest coach, and the idea was to get kids motivated. Anyway, while I was doing my coaching, all my gear was stolen. I'd left it in a room that I'd been assured would be secure.
If I've got a beef about it, it's that somebody forgot to lock a door. If I've got a bigger beef, it's with whoever pinched my mobile phone, my car keys – and my car. Anyone who's ever lost their phone or had their car stolen will know how annoying that is. The thieves that took my motor dumped it after stripping it bare. It was only found because it was fitted with a tracker device. The police are looking for the culprits. Thanks a bunch, whoever you are, and remember: it might not be today or tomorrow, but what goes around, comes around.
The fee for Andy Cole's column is donated to Alder Hey hospital and sickle cell anaemia research. He works on charitable projects with the sport and media team at law firm Thomas EggarReuse content