Former Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein, has apologised to ex-England defender, Ashley Cole, for pushing him towards securing a transfer move to London rivals Chelsea back in 2006.
Cole, who joined Arsenal in 1997 as a teenager, established himself as one of the best in his position during his time at Arsenal.
The former left-back helped Arsenal win seven trophies, including Premier League titles in the 2001-2002 and 2003-2004 seasons.
Cole eventually left the Gunners to join Chelsea in the summer of 2006 following a controversial contract dispute with the North London club.
He went on to enjoy a fruitful eight-year stint at Chelsea, lifting nine pieces of silverware.
Speaking on talkSPORT, Dein expressed his regret for not doing enough by offering Cole a deserved contract offer to stop him from joining Chelsea 16 years ago.
“We should never have lost him, in my opinion. His contract came up for re-negotiation, and we did not offer him the right sort of money; meanwhile, Chelsea did,” Dein said.
“I got a call one day from a journalist from the News of the World at the time, and he said, ‘We have got a hot story off the press; your player Ashley Cole is being tapped up. I think you should come and see us’. I went down to their offices, and they said, ‘Here is a signed statement from a waiter at a restaurant where Ashley Cole is meeting Chelsea’.
“That was the end of that, and it really was a great shame because Ashley was home-grown, an Arsenal boy, and I regret that we did not do enough at the time to keep him at the club. It was also at a time where we were talking about building the stadium and finances. We did not go enough to keep him, and I regret that, with hindsight. Ashley, if you’re listening, I’m sorry.”