Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has proved himself a shrewd operator in the property market.

The Mirror says Cole made £2.5million profit by selling his luxury villa in Dubai before prices halved.

The Chelsea ace was one of nine England stars heading to the World Cup in Japan in 2002 who paid about £1million each for properties in the oil-rich Gulf state.

But while most have held on to their pads, Cole sold his last summer for £3.5million.

Homes costing £3.2million last October are now for sale for £1.6million and some are dropping £80,000 a week.

Players who also bought on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah - the world's largest man-made island - included David Beckham, David James, Gary Neville and Michael Owen.