Knight comes to Cole’s defence

With his on-off relationship with former X-Factor judge Cheryl back

in the headlines, it was suggested Cole had hired an SAS-trained

minder to keep the women at bay. Yet Knight was part of the same

holiday group as Cole. And he cannot understand how such rumours

begin. “He didn’t have a minder that I know of, unless it was me,”

said the giant Bolton defender. “Obviously I was on holiday with

him but he was just a normal lad. He didn’t get up to any

mischief.” Knight’s friendship with Cole goes back to their much

younger days, when they were both based in London. And knowing

England’s supporters’ player of the year so intimately, the

31-year-old does not square the negative impression of Cole with

the person he has got to know. Knight is not attempting to rewrite

history with some of the things Cole has done. However, he does

believe that, as far as his friend is concerned, there are some

observers simply not prepared to offer an opportunity of

redemption. “I feel sorry for him,” said Knight. “It is every

little thing. Don’t get me wrong, he has caused his own problems at

times but he is trying to do the right thing. “Yet no matter what

he does, it seems like it is wrong. “I have known Ashley for many

years. He is a great lad. I wouldn’t have spent as much time with

him otherwise. “But that is me being a friend. From the outside

looking in, other people make judgements and then don’t give you

that chance to put them right. “He is trying to change his future

because he just wants to play football. “It is not nice when your

personal life gets into your work.”