Exclusive - Ashley Cole has revealed that the coach he most enjoyed working under during his time as a player was Carlo Ancelotti, praising the Italian for his 'genius' tactics and excellent man-management skills.
Ancelotti was at the helm of one of the most entertaining and successful Chelsea sides in history, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield in his first full season in charge, back in 2009/10. Cole was a key figure in that Blues' team, starring as an attacking left-back in a free-scoring and swashbuckling system.
Now, the 39-year-old has told 90min ahead of Friday's Europa League final - a competition that Chelsea won last year and that Cole won as a Blues player - that Ancelotti was his favourite manager to have played under in his two-decade career. He praised the current Everton boss for his ability as a tactician and his 'understanding' as a man.
"My favourite manager that I've played under, I would say is Carlo Ancelotti. I played under some great ones, they were all different and I loved them for different reasons, but I just felt that with Carlo Ancelotti, I had a really, really good bond with him," Cole said.
"Of course I admired him, he was a legend as a player and then of course what he achieved as a manager. Then he came to Chelsea and he was just that man manager that everyone seemed to love, whether you were playing or not.
"He was capable of putting that arm around you when needed - not just about football stuff, if you're struggling off the field, he was very understanding which as players you want. You see that human side in people, it's not all about football, so for me he was my favourite, and tactically at times he was a genius.
"He had that understanding whether to go into in-depth tactics or to trust the players to go out and deliver what he says in the team meeting."
Cole then spoke about the final manager of his career - and former Chelsea teammate - Frank Lampard, who he now works with on the club's coaching staff. Together, the duo won everything on offer for the Blues, and the 107-cap England international was later handed the opportunity to work under his former colleague at Derby County in 2019.
Cole accepted, and he talked eloquently over his role in the squad, his relationship with Lampard as a friend and player, and how his coach didn't offer 'any leeway' if he wasn't playing at his very best.
"Playing under Frank (Lampard), it was a little bit strange! I'd just left LA Galaxy and I got the call to go and join him. We didn't have that weird conversation, I had the utmost respect for him and I knew at the end of the day, 'Yes I played with him, but he's my manager, I'm the player.'
"Could I help the squad in terms of being a leader? Again, I knew I wasn't going to play as much so how could I affect that changing room and put his philosophy across without actually kicking a ball at times? So, I think it worked well, I definitely toed the line in terms of being a friend.
"I was a player and I'd come to play, I came to try and put that dressing room together and get that mentality, knowing the demands on a daily basis of what's needed.
"Even though I was an older player I trained hard, he didn't give me any leeway, if I wasn't doing it I didn't play, and I think that was good to see for the other players that, 'Oh he's supposed to be his friend but he's not playing him if he feels he's not producing on the Saturday', which we understood.
"We had that relationship and mutual understanding and it was easy to play for him to be honest."
Ashley Cole was speaking to 90min ahead of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League final, which Sevilla will contest against Inter on Friday, 21 August at Stadion Köln in Cologne. Kick-off 20:00 BST.