Cole is first England star in Italy since 1995

Frank Dalleres
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LEFT-BACK Ashley Cole last night became the first England international footballer to leave the Premier League for Serie A in 19 years when he completed a free transfer to Roma.

The defender, released by Chelsea this summer following a hugely successful eight years at the club, has signed a two-year contract with last season’s Italian runners-up.

Cole won 107 caps before his omission from Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad prompted him to announce his international retirement in May. It followed a campaign in which he was used sparingly at Stamford Bridge, making just 15 league starts.

His move sees him follow in the footsteps of former England midfielder Paul Ince, who left Manchester United for Inter Milan in 1995.

English players such as winger Franz Carr and forwards Danny Dichio and Jay Bothroyd have left these shores for Italy since, though none were internationals. Winger Lee Sharpe, a former United and England colleague of Ince, had a brief spell at Sampdoria during the 1998-99 season, but only on loan.

Ince was the last of several England stars, such as Paul Gascoigne, David Platt and Des Walker, to be lured to Serie A during the competition’s heyday in the 1990s.

Manchester City, meanwhile, are poised to complete the signing of Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero after he spent yesterday in England finalising a move.

Caballero, 32, is set to cost City around £6m and be reunited with his former manager Manuel Pellegrini, who left the Andalusian side 12 months ago.

The Argentinian replaces Costel Pantilimon as back-up to No1 Joe Hart, after the Romanian joined Sunderland last month.

Winger Tom Ince, son of Paul, has become Hull City’s third high-profile signing of the summer. The 22-year-old, on loan at Crystal Palace last season, was out of contract at Blackpool, though the Lancashire club are due compensation which has yet to be agreed.

He follows Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass, from Tottenham and Norwich respectively, in moving to the KC Stadium.

Ince also attracted interest from Inter, his father’s old team, and travelled to Italy for talks with the Serie A giants, but the former Liverpool trainee said the chance to work with Steve Bruce persuaded him to relocate to Humberside.