Ashley Cole still has five more years in him at the top level as the left-back prepares to win his 100th international cap, his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has told the Daily Star.
Cole who played under Mourinho during his spell as Chelsea manager, will become only the seventh England player to make a century of appearances for England when he steps out for the Three Lions against Brazil on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old currently faces the biggest threat to his starting place with Everton's Leighton Baines threatening to become his long-term successor sooner rather than later. Doubts have also been raised over his long-term Chelsea future, with the Premier League club only willing to offer the former Arsenal man a one-year contract extension last month due to his age.
Despite such reservations, Mourinho feels Cole is still up there with the best in the world, believing there is still plenty more to come from him.
"The brain controls, but the body needs to answer to the brain," he said in the Daily Star. "His brain gives him, for sure, four to five years at a high level. I hope his body says yes.
"Ash is one of the best left-backs in the world. He is the kind of player who it is difficult to choose his best performance, because he is always so stable.
"I left England in 2007. At that time he was the best. Six years later he is still the best. He has won everything at club level and is getting his 100th cap. I believe the football world in England knows who he is."
Mourinho's high opinion of Cole has led to speculation over the years that the Portuguese would attempt to re-sign his former player. The Real Madrid boss, however, insists he has never tried to lure the defender away from Stamford Bridge.
"I never try to take players from my ex-clubs," Mourinho said."Unless the club is willing to let them go - and Chelsea always wanted him."