Cole reflects on 'brilliant' Play-Off final memories

Carlton Cole celebrates his goal at Wembley in 2012


Carlton Cole enjoyed plenty of memorable days in a West Ham United shirt, but perhaps none more so than the 2012 Championship Play-Off final.

The Wembley showdown with Blackpool, which took place on 19 May six years ago, saw the long-serving striker open the scoring with a superbly-taken right-foot finish from Matt Taylor’s long, diagonal cross.

Although Thomas Ince equalised for the Tangerines shortly after half-time, Cole was in the right place again two minutes from full-time, controlling Kevin Nolan’s cross before prodding it into the path of Ricardo Vaz Te, who roofed his shot to send 40,000-plus West Ham fans wild with delight.

Looking back on the big day, Cole, who is now back at the Club in an ambassadorial role, still revels in the memories he forged that sunny afternoon at the Home of Football.

It was such a huge game for us, with the Club’s future in the balance

Carlton Cole

“It was a massive highlight for me because my whole family were there,” recalled Cole, who scored 15 goals that promotion-winning season. “It was such a huge game for us, with the Club’s future in the balance, and to be part of that, scoring the first goal and having the grit and determination to win that game, by scoring in the last minute through Vaz, was brilliant.

“I assisted that goal as well. I think it was a ball in from Kevin Nolan from the left. I almost got it to try and get the goal, but the keeper was right there. The only thing I could do was kind of hook it away from him. I knew that someone was on my right and I was just hoping that they were on the move as well.


Carlton Cole scores his Play-Off final goal at Wembley in 2012


“When I looked as I scooped it away from the ‘keeper, just to keep the ball alive, it was Vaz Te. I actually thought he’d missed it and skied it over the bar, but he roofed it and It couldn’t have fallen to a better person and a better guy. 

“We didn’t really play well in that game, every single one of us was nervous, but the West Ham fans were the 12th man for us, and it pushed us through right to the end.”

Cole, of course, went on to total 293 appearances in Claret and Blue across two spells, scoring 68 goals.