Carlton Cole is having a season to remember in West Ham United colours.
The club's second-longest serving player after homegrown Mark Noble, Cole is a proud Hammer through and through. His passion for the cause, hard work and commitment have marked him out as a fans' favourite worthy of his own song.
He recently reached a half-century of goals in claret and blue and is now targeting another ten to get on to the all-time top 20 list of West Ham scorers. First and foremost, is his determination to fire the Hammers to promotion back to the Premier League. He has eight to his name so far this campaign.
Now 28, Cole has been leading the line to distinction for the Hammers since his debut against Charlton Athletic back in August 2006. He sat down with whufc.com to talk through his favourite strikes, his best partner and his role as a senior pro
How good was it to score your 50th goal [against Birmingham City]?
CC: It was really good. Obviously the result on the day wasn't what we wanted but to get my 50th goal in West Ham colours was brilliant.
Did you know the milestone was coming up?
CC: I have never really been focused on just me. I have just been focused on the team doing well. When I got to that milestone I didn't know but it is a real privilege to do that in a West Ham shirt.
It is a team game but obviously as a striker, scoring goals is important for you?
CC: I am a team player and put the team before myself. Hopefully in the foreseeable future, I will do the same but not a lot of people have scored 50 goals so I am very happy and privileged.
Do you remember your first West Ham United goal?
CC: I remember my first goal. It was a really good day, It was a nice sunny day playing against Charlton and it was my debut. I came on and I scored with one of my first touches. That was a good start to my goal tally. It was a dream debut. It broke the ice with the fans and it sometimes takes time to score goals for a new club so I was happy it came straight away.
What is your top three in West Ham colours?
CC: I quite like my Manchester City goal away a couple of years back [20 January 2008]. It was an overhead kick, reaction kind of goal and I do like my Tottenham goal [23 August 2009]. That was left footed from outside the box and was really good.
I also like the Wigan goal [4 March 2009] just for the all-round build-up play and the finish at the end was really good. They are up there in my top three but any goal for a striker is a good goal, whether it comes off your head, shoulder, chest, knee or even arm if the referee doesn't see it!
Any goal is good for the team, especially if it puts us on the way to winning the game
You just need ten more to get on the top 20 all-time West Ham scorers.
CC: Hopefully I can get to that as soon as possible. If I could do it this season, it would get me up near the 20 mark for the season which would be good for the club. If I can do that and a few of the other players are up there as well that would be good for us in the league as well. That is my main target.
Aside from the forwards at the club now, who is your favourite strike partner over the years?
CC: Over the years, I probably enjoyed playing with Craig Bellamy, because he had vast experience, his running and his energy. He used to talk me through games so I learnt a lot from him.
It looked as if he was a moany person but he wasn't. He would only moan if something really happened that he wanted to have a go at. That is what you expect from another team-mate. They want you to do well. He encouraged me to get the best out of me.
You are one of the senior players now and the roles have reversed?
CC: Now I have to do that to the young players here now, the roles have changed and I am one of the senior pros. I have to help them along in the game as well because that is what they need.
How does that make you feel?
CC: It is nice to be one they look up to. I am privileged to be giving advice to them. We have some good players coming through and I am still getting advice from the players who are more senior to me. I am still learning every day. I need to do that as well.
I give my advice because they need it at this level, you need to learn a few things. Young Pottsy is coming through, he has needed some help on his first outings - first away, first home. Even players like Jack Collison still need guidance but he is doing well.
Have you ever thought about having a trademark goal celebration?
CC: I don't really have one. My celebration is after the game, and before that we just have to make sure we win the game. I do like to run to the fans and share it with them. When I score a goal, I just want everyone to enjoy it. We have to all celebrate goals together. It is all about the team being in a winning posiiton, that is the main thing.
And what of the future? More Carlton Cole goals?
CC: Hopefully I can notch in the games coming up. We will see what happens. I am aiming for wins every time I play. That is the most important thing.