Having begun his career as a youth player for Arsenal in 1988, Andrew Alexander Cole signed professional terms for the club in 1989. He would go on to make just one league appearance before the club sold him to Second Division Bristol City for £500,000.
Cole went on to score 290 goals in English football and win 5 league titles for Manchester United.
At Arsenal, Cole struggled for game time with Alan Smith, Ian Wright and fellow youth team product Kevin Campbell ahead of him.
He made his only league appearance for Arsenal, aged 19, as a substitute against Sheffield United at Highbury during a First Division match in December 1990. The following season, Cole was loaned to Fulham in the Third Division.
In March 1992 he joined Bristol City on loan before signing in a £500,000 permanent deal in the summer of 1992.
In February 1993, Division One leaders Newcastle United broke their club transfer record by paying £1.75 million to sign Cole. He then scored 12 goals in as many league matches as the Magpies cruised to the Division One title and won promotion to the Premier League.
Cole scored 34 goals in 40 matches during Newcastle’s first Premier League season as they finished third and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Cole scored 41 total goals in all competitions – breaking the club’s goalscoring record.
Cole was subsequently voted PFA Young Player of the Year for that season.
In all, Cole scored 68 goals in 84 matches for Newcastle, before joining Manchester United in January 1995 – setting a new record for the most expensive British transfer.
Over the next 7 season, Cole would score over 122 goals for Manchester United in all competitions, winning 5 league titles, the Champions League and 2 FA Cups.
During that same period, Arsenal would win just 2 league titles, 1 ECWC and 2 FA Cups.
Cole would go on to win the League Cup with Blackburn Rovers in 2002, making it a clean sweep of domestic honours.
He is currently the 3rd highest Premier League goal scorer of all time, following stints at Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Sunderland.
Arsenal developed one of the highest goal scorers in recent English football history, who went on to win everything domestically in the game, and let him go.
Does anyone regret it?