Ashley Cole joins England’s most exclusive club in the next 24 hours – but knows he has to be in a side that wins silverware to earn a place in the nation’s hearts.
Cole, the greatest left-back to wear that famous white shirt, will become only the seventh player to win 100 caps when he lines up against Brazil at Wembley.
But while Bobby Moore, Billy Wright and Sir Bobby Charlton are part of football folklore, Peter Shilton respected, and David Beckham and Steven Gerrard loved by millions, Cole accepts he is not viewed in the same light.
Cole said: “Maybe I don’t get the recognition and praise, but I don’t want to sit here and keep going on about wanting to be loved.
“You need character to overcome low points, yes. In football you can’t always have it your own way. You can’t always have the good times. You are going to have bad spells when you are not playing well. It is something I have to deal with. I have learned to deal with it.
“I am here to play football. That is all I want to do. I have been lucky to win trophies [at club level]. That is my aim. Of course I want to do it in an England shirt.”
An achievement that could still bring about a change of perceptions in a player who is a divisive figure for non-footballing reasons. Cole added: “When Wayne Rooney came through we thought, ‘He is on fire. This is our chance to get some goals and win something.’
“We just haven’t had that luck. We keep seeming to go out on penalties. Maybe if we beat one of those teams it would give us the confidence or we might have a bit of luck in the next game to go through.
“When it goes to penalties, you think, ‘If we win this, we have got a chance in the next round.’
“Three times now we have been knocked out on penalties. At the Euros I definitely felt I had let the team down.”
He had not. He simply missed a penalty.
But the admission demonstrates, once again, that for all the bluster he sometimes shows, Cole truly cares about his country.
“I am proud to play for England - proud, privileged and overwhelmed,” said Cole. “From being a little boy from the East End, you never think you would get a chance to represent your country.
“When I was a young kid, I never expected to play for Arsenal or England. To play for my country for the 100th time is amazing.