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DEVANTE COLE - Rewind

Updated: Jan 25



We wanted to get the lowdown on Devante Cole’s journey from son of a legendary number 9 to asking for something like +44 on the code.


Having overseen the transition at Manchester City from Premier League also-rans to Noisey Neighbours and then Premier League Champions, Cole’s career at the Etihad Stadium was in risk of being built up to break just halfway through. Then came 44, not 22.


“It did come with the realisiton that it would be difficult to break in to the first-team. I think it meant that the reason I signed for City in the first place was no longer valid. It is probably the same now in that a lot of youngsters at City struggle to break through.”


With that came loan spells in England before the forward finally made it North for the first time back in 2019, despite rumoured interest five years earlier - something that the man himself hadn’t heard before!


So we sat down with the Motherwell man for an extended chat covering his early associations with football, those loan moves, his fashion label, music, Jamaican influences and lots more. Let’s rewind to the beginning.

You are obviously the son of Manchester United legend Andrew Cole, but what were your own first memories of football? Probably just the same as everyone else really! Watching it as a fan and playing it at school. I don’t think my first memories of football were anything specific around my dad. Football is such a huge part of British culture outwith my dad’s professional status so yeah, I think my first memories are just playing it in the playground with my mates at school.

Now that you have made your own way as a professional, however, does it ever get frustrating that your dad’s name is always linked with yours in articles and press reports? Not really actually. I understand that’s just the way it is and it’s probably always going to happen. I know that I’m my own person and it’s up to everyone else to see that and see me for who I am.


Did Cole Snr. ever apply any pressure on you to become a professional footballer? None at all. He encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. He did tell me that if I wanted to be a footballer I would have to take it seriously, but he never pushed me to play.

When you were coming through as a kid, can you remember your dad playing? I do. Only vaguely, however. I remember him playing for different clubs in different places. But, at that age, it was just following my dad to work. I didn’t see it as getting access to football at close quarters, it was just going to my dad’s work for me.

Was he your footballing inspiration then? Or did you have a separate player that you looked up to in your younger days? My inspiration growing up was Henry! So his rival! (Laughs) Most people probably think it should be my dad but he was just my dad to me! He’s just a normal guy but of course he’s still had a huge impact on me being where I am today.

I also wanted to ask you about logistics - Cole Snr. had a lot of clubs in the latter part of his career which were spread across the length and breadth of England, yet you were at Manchester City from a very early age. So did you remain in Manchester throughout your youth and your dad lived away? I was actually born in London which is something a lot of people don’t realise. We stayed in Manchester for large parts but then returned to London whilst he was at Fulham. Thereafter we followed him wherever he went but always maintained a base in Manchester which allowed me to play for City.

Was that difficult for you growing up? Not really; I just got used to moving around. I got to see different places and different cultures so I enjoyed it.

As mentioned, you came through at Manchester City, but I read that you spent a day training with the red half of the city; tell us more about that. Yeah I actually had the choice of a few when I was younger. I chose City in the end because, at that time, they were the club who were bringing through the most young players - they had Micah Richards, Michael Johnson, Stephen Ireland - so City stood out to me as the obvious choice.


How do you look back on your upbringing at The Etihad Stadium? It was one of the best you could have. 100%. It’s probably slightly different now to what it was then, but we still had an unbelievable team and we used to win everything. They gave me a great grounding and that is something I’m really thankful for.

You were there for eleven years and would have oversaw the transition at the club when the new owners came in - was that strange to witness? It was almost in the blink of an eye for us. We came back in for pre-season one summer and the whole training ground was redone, there was new investment going on all over the place - we went on a trip to Dubai with the youth-team; it was mad. That happened so quickly. We just had to adapt to the changes as players.


With the players that the club were bringing in at that point, did it come with a realisation that it would be difficult for you to break in to the first-team? It did. I think it meant that the reason I signed for City in the first place was no longer valid. The players that they were bringing in, especially in my position, were top class. It is probably the same now in that a lot of youngsters at City struggle to break through, with Phil Foden being the only exemption, and you can see how good he is!


On the back of that, you then had two loan spells at Barnsley and MK Dons; how did you find those? It was great to finally get out into the real world of mens football. I was almost in a bubble at City but it wasn’t conducive to learning the game as you are playing in the youth-team every week. Going to Barnsley gave me a sense of what it was like to play for three points and against seasoned professionals in a tough league. Those guys have kids at home to feed and mortgages to pay for - that really makes football mean more at that level and it makes you see it in a different light.

You won promotion with MK Dons as well; that must have been a great experience. Yeah it was. Getting promoted is one of the best feelings you can have as a footballer. I’ve been fortunate enough to win promotion twice with MK Dons and Wigan and both instances were amazing. That’s what you play football for, to be a part of occasions like that.

Despite it not happening at this time, you were linked with a loan move to Motherwell back in 2014 when you signed for Barnsley. Do you have a connection to Motherwell that we don’t know about?! That’s the first I’ve heard of that! (Laughs)

You finally ended up at Fir Park in 2019 on an initial six-month loan deal. How did you find the transition to Scottish football and what are the main differences to the English game that you noticed? I think it’s interesting in that the top-flight has almost four leagues in one; I think you could fit in certain teams in to each division in England between the Premier League and League Two, so it is difficult trying to adjust game-to-game. You will play Celtic one week on a really nice grass pitch, then have an equally tough game against a smaller club on astroturf - that is really hard to adapt to.


In terms of cultural differences between the two bordering countries, have you noticed any during your time in Lanarkshire? Yeah, definitely. Growing up in London, the guys there are different to Manchester and different again to the guys in Scotland. Up here, the boys are a lot more welcoming, whereas it’s probably a bit more cut-throat down South. I’m not sure why that is, but there is definitely a better atmosphere amongst the players up here.


You scored at Ibrox during your first spell with the club in front of 50,000 fans. You then scored in your first game back on your return in front of an empty Fir Park - how have you found playing behind closed doors? It’s weird, I was speaking to one of the boys this morning about this and we agreed that we didn’t even notice! I think when the whistle goes, you’re so focused that you completely forget. I would obviously love for the fans to come back as soon as possible, but when you’re playing football you’re so caught up in the game that it takes over.