David Dein: How Arsenal lost Ashley Cole to Chelsea

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Ashley Cole of Chelsea is challenged by Francesc Fabregas of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on December 16, 2007 in London, England
Photo: Mike Hewitt/GETTY IMAGES

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has admitted that his failure to prevent Ashley Cole from joining Chelsea was one of the biggest regrets of his career.

Dein, who was Arsenal's vice-chairman for 24 years between 1983 and 2007, oversaw some of the Gunners' most glorious title-winning years and their ground-breaking move to the Emirates.

One of Dein's major missteps whilst at Arsenal, though, came in the summer of 2006 when Cole left the club to join their London rivals Chelsea.

The Blues poached Cole after offering the Englishman a significant pay rise compared to what he would have earned at Arsenal.

After leaving Highbury, Cole went onto have a successful eight season stay at Chelsea winning a league title, four FA Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League.

As for Dein, he stepped down as Arsenal vice-chairman in 2007 soon after Cole departed.

And Dein has now revealed the inside story behind Cole's departure on talkSPORT.

We should never have lost him in my opinion. His contract came up for renegotiation and we didn't offer him the right sort of money and Chelsea did.

There was this clandestine meeting, I got a call one day from a journalist from The News of the World and he said we've got a hot story off the press that your player is being tapped up by Chelsea, I think you should come and see us.

So I went down to the offices and they said here's a signed statement from the waiter in the hotel where Ashley Cole was meeting Chelsea and [the waiter] was an Arsenal fan and he gave the story to The News of the World and they broke it there and then.

That really was the end of that there and it was a great shame as Ashely was homegrown, he was an Arsenal boy and I regret we didn't do enough at the time to keep him at the club.

That departure came before Premier League television rights completely skyrocketed, making matchday far more crucial, and Arsenal having to penny-pinch to get it over the line.

It was also when we were talking about building the stadium and finances and tensions were raging about how we were going to finance the new stadium.

We were watching every penny and consequently we didn't do enough to keep him and I regret that in hindsight.

So Ashley if you're listening I'm sorry.

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