West Ham's Cole: I never gave myself chance at Chelsea

West Ham United striker Carlton Cole admits he never gave himself a chance to make the most of his time at former club Chelsea.

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"I am unrecognisable as a person from then," said the 24-year-old. "When I was at Chelsea I was really immature. I made my first team debut at 18 but soon got involved in stupid stuff off the field.

"I would get back on track for a while and then go off the rails again," he said. "It was partly my fault and partly those around me. I’ve ditched loads of so-called friends since those bad times.

"It's unbelievable how many friends I thought I had but turned out to be hangers-on. My life is back on track now and I’m never going back. My missus, Sophia, has three months to go before she is due to give birth to our first baby and that puts a new perspective on things.

"There was a lot expected of me at a young age at Chelsea. Some people cope with that pressure but I didn’t handle it well, I realise that now. In the end I was shipped out so many times to various clubs that I never really found my feet.

"It's only now that I'm getting my life back on an even keel and I’m so happy here at West Ham. I’ve never played so many games in a season before and that has meant I’ve grown up on the pitch as well.

"It's a great feeling, knowing you are one of the team's main strikers. It does my confidence so much good. It's only now I realise I can have a good future in the game and I want to carry on as long as possible. I feel really solid in myself, content."

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