Cole, now 32 and a cultured star with West Ham, Chelsea and England , had the choice of beach luxury from Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Asia.
"I had offers and interest from all over the world," said Cole.
"But as soon as I spoke to the manager and had a look at Villa and what the club was about I fancied the challenge.
"I had meetings with other clubs and they offered me massive contracts but I don't really want to go on a beach and play lesser football. I could have made a fortune but I want to challenge myself.
"I've taken a drop in money and you have to look after the money because you've got family and kids, things you want to do, and we're lucky we play in an era where the money is there.
"But I just fancied the challenge and to see what I've still got. Can I still do it at the top level ? I wasn't ready to go and sit on a beach and pick up big money playing football that wouldn't stimulate me.
"Everyone says 'you ain't got anything to prove', but you have.
"What I've done in my career will always be there but you want to add to it.
"You want more great days, to come to Aston Villa and maybe win an FA Cup or League Cup, those days are the special days in football and you want more of them."
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