Joe Cole: Tampa Bay Rowdies sign Coventry City's former England international

Coventry City's on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Joe Cole
Former Chelsea, Liverpool and Villa winger Joe Cole started his career with West Ham United

Former England midfielder Joe Cole will leave Coventry City at the end of the season to play in the United States.

The 34-year-old, capped 56 times, has signed to play in Florida for North American Soccer League side Tampa Bay Rowdies when his current deal expires.

But he will be playing in the NASL, a level below Major League Soccer (MLS).

Cole left Aston Villa for League One side City on loan in November before completing a short-term free transfer move to the Ricoh Arena in January.

"I've always envisaged playing in the United States at some point in my life," said Cole, whose existing deal at Coventry was until the end of this season.

"My family and I came out to visit a few months ago and everyone was lovely. They really made us feel welcomed.

"I'm really excited. My desire to win football matches is still there. I'm not coming for an extended holiday."

City boss Tony Mowbray added: "I would have liked to have kept Joe. He's a fantastic character. No airs and graces, not looking for favours or extra days off and has shown his football ability.

"He has proved his fitness and worth to the team but he's made his decision for his family, and we wish him well."

Cole, who scored twice in 22 Coventry appearances, has signed a one-year deal with Tampa with an option for another year, subject to him getting international clearance.

Cole's career in English football

After starting his career with West Ham United, Cole won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the League Cup twice after joining Chelsea in 2003.

He was named in the Premier League Team of the Year in 2006, although he endured several significant injury spells in his time at Stamford Bridge.

He joined Liverpool in 2010 but played only 42 games in three years, spending a season on loan in France at Lille, before returning to first club West Ham in 2012.

After being released by West Ham in May 2014, he was then signed by Paul Lambert for Villa on a two-year contract. But he started just four games for the Midlanders, as well as making 10 substitute appearances, before being allowed by then boss Tim Sherwood to link up with Coventry in October.

He scored 10 goals in his 56 international appearances for England.

America's European footballing imports

Cole will follow former England team-mates David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, Republic of Ireland star Robbie Keane and Italy's Andrea Pirlo in moving to the USA.

Beckham played for five years until 2012 with MLS side LA Galaxy, who also signed Keane and later Gerrard, while Lampard and Pirlo now also play in the MLS for New York City.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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