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Joe Cole has answered one of football’s most contentious debates: who was the best player out of Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard?
The three legendary midfielders are still constantly compared, years after hanging up their boots.
The trio were all unbelievable midfielders, unquestionably three of the greatest players of the Premier League era.
Fitting them into England’s midfield in the early-to-mid 2000s was a conundrum that Sven Goran-Eriksson never managed to solve. The Swedish manager’s decision to push Scholes out to the left wing on occasions is still criticised all these years later.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 31: Sven Goran Eriksson the manager of England talks to Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham and Paul Scholes during the teams training session at the City of Manchester Stadium on May 31, 2004 in Manchester, England.(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Joe Cole on the toughest midfielder he faced
Cole, who was a fine midfielder himself, had the privilege of playing and competing against all three legends during his career.
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel, FIVE, Cole was first asked to name the best midfielder in Premier League history.
“I wouldn’t say he’s the best but he gave me the most trouble: [Patrick] Vieira,” Cole said. “He was a machine. I felt like an Under-14! I beat him in the air once, that’s all I’ve got.”
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Joe Cole of Chelsea holds off Patrick Vieira of Arsenal during the Barclays Premiership match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on April 20, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)
Joe Cole answers the Gerrard vs Lampard vs Scholes question
Ferdinand then said: “Okay: Stevie, Scholesy, Frank – who you taking?”
Cole gave it some thought before replying: “I’d say the most complete is Stevie because he could do everything.
“You have to put some context on the question. If I’m managing a mid-table team and I get to have any of those players at the age of 21, I’m taking Stevie… because you know that even when things are going wrong, he can drag you out.
“It’s a hard question. Maybe you’ll ask me tomorrow and I’ll change my mind.”
Sounding a little puzzled, Cole added: “If you asked most people, Frank would probably be third on that list, unless you’re a Chelsea fan.”
It’s clear that Cole has a huge amount of respect for all three players, but Gerrard is the midfielder that he would sign out of the revered trio.
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 29: Steven Gerrard (L) of England is chased by Joe Cole during the England Training Session ahead of the International Friendy against Hungary at Old Trafford on May 29, 2006 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Video: Joe Cole answers Lampard vs Scholes vs Gerrard debate
You can watch Cole give his answer in full here:
Gerrard was an exceptional midfielder who could do it all. But his failure to win a Premier League title counts against him in the eyes of some football fans.
Lampard, Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, won three Premier League titles during his glittering spell with Chelsea.
While Scholes, a one-club ma…