How To Find The Best Apartments For Rent In Tampa Florida

If you have been looking for some of the best apartments for rent in Tampa Florida, moving into it can be a really exciting endeavor which begins with finding the best one. There are some tips that should be taken into account for making it easier to find an apartment. Read more

Tampa Bay Rays’ bullpen fails again as Baltimore Orioles rally to win

Baltimore Orioles’ Joey Rickard (23) is congratulated by manager Buck Showalter and Jonathan Schoop (6) after a hit. File photo by David Tulis/UPI

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been a late come-from-behind team much this season, but they enjoyed that role Sunday, rallying in the ninth inning for an 8-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

"We just want to play some crisp baseball games," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after winning his second straight game and getting 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from his bullpen while Tampa Bay’s relievers struggled.

Baltimore scored three runs in the ninth against Rays closer Alex Colome (1-3), who struggled for the second straight outing.

Joey Rickard put Baltimore ahead with an RBI ground-rule double, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, Colome hit Jonathan Schoop to bring in a second run. Rickard scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.

The Rays (40-38) had been 35-3 this season when leading after seven innings and the Orioles (37-38) had been 3-34 when trailing after seven.

"Not the way we wanted to finish off a homestand here," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "At the end of the day, their lineup, especially the bottom of the lineup, caused a lot of damage."

Baltimore right-hander Brad Brach (2-1) picked up the win in relief, pitching the final two innings, includng a 1-2-3 ninth. The Rays hadn’t lost a home series since they dropped three of four to the Royals in early May.

The bullpen struggles started an inning earlier as Rays reliever Chase Whitley, trying to hold a one-run lead in the eighth, gave up a solo home run to Schoop, his 15th homer of the season to tie the score at 5.

Colome, who had given up four earned runs in his last 19 appearances entering the week, has now allowed five in his last two outings, raising his ERA to 3.15.

"If you miss one pitch, they can take it," Colome said. "If I have to pitch tomorrow, I’d do the same thing. I don’t have to change anything."

In the fifth inning, the Rays got to Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who came in with an 8.39 ERA, as Mallex Smith and Corey Dickerson singled, setting up a three-run homer by Evan Longoria to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.

Longoria’s 12th home run of the season went to left field and shifted momentum back to the home team, which had won seven straight rubber games and had split the first two games of the series with Baltimore.

"They’re constantly good," Tillman said of his bullpen after the game. "They’re always good. They’re solid if you give them a chance. When you set them up to pitch where they need to be pitching, they’re pretty darn good."

Baltimore got within a run on Trey Mancini’s solo home run in the sixth off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi — his 11th straight appearance giving up a home run, the longest such streak by a Rays pitcher since James Shields served one up in 10 consecutive games in 2006 and matching the franchise mark set by Wilson Alvarez (11 in 1998).

The Orioles had jumped ahead with a two-run rally in the second inning — Caleb Joseph singled, Craig Gentry doubled, and both scored on a double by Paul Janish off Odorizzi.

The Rays’ first two runs were brought in by second baseman Taylor Featherston, who had an RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 3-2 after Joseph added a solo home run.

NOTES: The Rays are making a change to their starting rotation, with LHP Blake Snell rejoining the group Wednesday after a solid stint in the minors. RHP Erasmo Ramirez will move back to the bullpen to make room, and Tampa Bay will need to make a roster move before Wednesday to open a 25-man spot for Snell. … Baltimore will have RHP Kevin Gausman on the mound Tuesday as the Orioles open a three-game series at Toronto. Tampa Bay will start RHP Alex Cobb on Tuesday to open a three-game set at Pittsburgh. … An official scoring change was made to Friday’s game. DH Mark Trumbo’s fourth-inning single has been changed to an error on Rays SS Tim Beckham. That makes an ensuing run unearned, so RHP Chris Archer’s season ERA drops from 3.97 to 3.88.

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Fighting The (Losing) Battle Against Florida Heat

When it comes to summertime in Florida, everyone wants to try to beat the heat. It only makes sense. Due to the fact that Florida is surrounded on three sides by ocean, and the fact that much of the southern tip of Florida is swamp land, things can get incredibly humid. When you add in the fact that Florida is considered to be a tropical climate, things can get incredibly uncomfortable!

The first step to beating the Florida heat is to understand that you can never beat the Florida heat. It’s overbearing, with the humidity surrounding and suffocating you at all times. The best you can do is find a way to hide from the heat for a short period of time. Beating it is simply not a thing that’s going to happen unless you can fill a tub with ice that never melts and bury yourself in it.

Given you can’t beat the heat, there are some ways you can fight it. First and foremost, look for public places you can hang out that have air conditioning. The movie theater is a great example, as are many different shopping malls. If you can find a cafe to sit and read, that works even better!

There are people who suggest putting a block of ice behind a fan. This mimics an evaporative cooler, which blows cold air made by the evaporation of water. Unfortunately, this sort of thing doesn’t work in Florida. The humidity means that the air will be far too full of hot moisture to become cold, and all you’ll do is circulate the hot air around.

The best, and only, way to fight the heat in Florida is to hide from it. Make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, and also drink lots of water. Hopefully, you can manage to survive the hot Florida summer!

For Tampa’s Confederate monument, racist history clouds claims of heritage

A statue titled

TAMPA — In the streets along Court House Square they sang "Dixie" and cheered as the veil was finally removed from the white marble obelisk. Necks craned from balconies along Franklin Street as people strained to catch a glimpse.

It was Feb. 8, 1911 and an estimated 5,000 people had flooded downtown Tampa, still a small port city, for the dedication of a Confederate monument.

According to news accounts from the day, various dignitaries paid tribute to the Confederate soldiers who had marched to defend the old south then returned to build the new south from its ashes. They praised the generals who led them and the women who supported the cause from home.

But there were other sentiments expressed that day.

In remarks at the monument’s dedication — a monument that its modern supporters insist doesn’t symbolize the suppression of black Americans — the keynote speaker, state attorney Herbert S. Phillips, had this to say:

"The South stands ready to welcome all good citizens who seek to make their homes within her borders. But the South detests and despises all, it matters not from whence they came, who, in any manner, encourages social equality with an ignorant and inferior race."

• • •

The eternal conflict of Confederate symbols is that one man’s nod to heritage is another man’s reminder of oppression.

That conflict has come to Hillsborough County.

Commissioner Les Miller has called for the removal of the 106-year-old Confederate monument that now stands outside the old county courthouse in downtown Tampa, an administrative building that holds traffic court and conducts marriages.

Miller, the descendent of slaves, came of age when schools were still segregated in Tampa. As a University of South Florida student, he remembers a helplessness come over him as he passed the statue on the way to the downtown law library.

"When I became a county commissioner one of the things I said to myself was, ‘I’m going to one day get that removed,’ " Miller said. "The timing had to be right."

The moment for Miller arrived last month. Four Confederate memorials had just come down in New Orleans in parts of the city not far from where thousands of men and women were bought and sold into bondage. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech explaining why went viral and became a national address on race relations.

But opposition to Miller’s proposal was swift.

A mailer circulated comparing Miller, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, to the Islamic State. Dozens of men and women filled the seats of a recent county commission meeting holding signs saying "Americans build monuments/We don’t remove them."

"If this monument is removed, I, as a citizen of this county, will organize other like-minded citizens to stand in its place as well as over offices of this council," warned one of those residents, Donny McCurry of Riverview.

A debate on the future of the monument is expected at Wednesday’s commission meeting. Commissioner Stacy White said he plans to propose a blanket ban on the removal of any of Hillsborough’s war memorials.

"This is a part of history," White said.

• • •

"Handsome," the Tampa Morning Tribune remarked about the monument the day after its unveiling. And unique compared to others around Florida.

To the north faces a Confederate soldier; upright, armed, right foot forward heading toward battle. To the south, the soldier walks home-bound; humbled, his clothes tattered and gun falling to his side. A tower that points to the heavens stands between the two figures.

It’s installment, the Tribune wrote, was "made possible through the zealous efforts of the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy."

"Zealous” may actually be an understatement.

In the years after the Civil War, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and other southern groups undertook extensive efforts to influence the post-war narrative and remake in defeat the image of the south.

Committees reviewed school text books to ensure deference to the Southern point-of-view, according to minutes from Daughters of the Confederacy conventions in the early 1900s. Campaigns persuaded governments to refer to the Civil War as the "War Between the States" and downplay slavery’s role in the South’s secession.

Known as the "Lost Cause" narrative, it sought to project a picturesque antebellum south, said William Lees, executive director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.

"That narrative is embedded in insidious ways throughout the South," said Lees, who catalogued Florida’s Civil War memorials for his book, Recalling Deeds Immortal, Florida Monuments to the Civil War. "It may have started for innocent reasons but it became a very effective campaign and it included monuments."

The United Daughters of the Confederacy organized dozens of empathetic monuments throughout the south, including Florida, from the late 1880s through the First World War. They can be found in public spaces in Bradenton, Brooksville and Lakeland.

The local chapter of the United Daughters raised $3,000 in 1910 to build the monument in Tampa. Hillsborough County donated the land on Franklin and Lafayette streets.

It’s unveiling, marking the 50th anniversary of the South’s secession from the Union, was such an event that kids were given the day off school. It was Tampa’s first monument.

Dedication speeches praised the reunited country. But the prevailing lost cause narrative reverberated too, said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator at the Tampa Bay History Center, "recasting not just the cause of the war, but the end of the war, making it where there is no loser."

Tampa Mayor D.B. McKay, for example, said the statue "will stand forever as a testimonial of our undying love for the cause that we of the South believe was right, and of our pride in the splendid achievements of the hosts who through those terrible years made records on land and on sea unparalleled in the history of the world."

• • •

Over the past two decades, Hillsborough has gradually distanced itself from Confederate symbols.

In 1997, county commissioners removed the Confederate flag from the Hillsborough seal. In a compromise, they voted to hang a version of the flag in the county center.

Then commissioners voted in 2015 to remove that flag. Meanwhile, the county stopped honoring Southern Heritage Month, a decision in 2007 that prompted one angry citizen to plant a massive Confederate Flag near Interstates 4 and 275.

More recently, the Hillsborough County School Board started a review of how to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School in east Tampa.

But the Confederate monument downtown had avoided similar scrutiny. Local historians and long-time black leaders could not remember debates about it. In fact, the same commissioners who removed the flag from the county seal unanimously approved a $4,000 restoration of the monument.

Tom Scott, who served on the county commission and Tampa city council, often as the only black member, said the political climate is different now. But he added that removing the monument won’t solve the racial disparity in the county.

"It’s understandable to not want those kinds of symbols that portray racism," Scott said. "But after removing the statue, we still have a problem if we’re not addressing the systemic issues."

Miller said the debate is overdue.

"That monument and those flags stood for people that wanted to keep a segment of the country in bondage," Miller said. "You go into a court house for justice, and here stands a monument erected to those who didn’t even look at you as a human being."

Advocates of Southern heritage said removing these symbols is a disservice to the dozens of local men who fought in the Civil War.

"If they believe any symbol of slavery should be eliminated because it’s offensive there’s a long list of things that need to go," Lunelle McCallister, chair of monuments for the Florida division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. "Are we going to rename McKay Bay? When does it end?"

• • •

In 1911, Tampa was opening itself to the north — both to its visitors and its commerce — and touting its place in the nation’s industrialization. The city celebrated the rolling of its one billionth cigar, according to a Tribune report, and the newspaper was habitually filled with pronouncements of new business in the port.

But Tampa held closely to its roots as the third southern state to secede.

The city observed Lee’s birthday and school children named trees after him. Much of the county’s black population lived in the Scrub, an area founded by free slaves, or segregated communities with few amenities and poor conditions. The first hospital to treat black residents had just opened three years earlier.

"That tells you a lot of what you need to know about the black conditions in Tampa," said Fred Hearns, a retired director of community affairs for Tampa who now provides black history tours.

Against this backdrop, Herbert Phillips, the state’s attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, delivered his keynote address to dedicate the Confederate monument.

"The south declares that a president who appoints a negro to an office within her borders engenders sectional bitterness," he said, "encourages lynchings, injures the negro, is an enemy of good government and a traitor to the Anglo-Saxon race."

Asked if Phillips’ words changed his view of the monument, County Commissioner White said he hadn’t heard them before and would have to study it before commenting. But he added: "I don’t think that those types of sentiments would entirely encompass the dedication of the monument."

David McCallister, commander of the local chapter of the Sons of the Confederacy and husband to Lunelle, was more effusive.

"(Abraham) Lincoln had exactly the same thoughts," he said. "What do they think about Lincoln on the penny?"

• • •

The monument, like the south-facing soldier, is tattered these days. There are cracks throughout the base and chips in the marble men. The soldiers have been missing most of their guns for decades.

On his tour routes, Hearns often drives by the statue.

He explains for tourists the tower and the two soldiers, what they symbolize, the engravings that mark the start and end of the Civil War, the carving of the rebel flag that adorns the statue’s west side.

"They’re pretty silent when I give the history of that statue," he said. "Every time I go by a little chill goes through me.

"I know what it meant."

Follow Steve Contorno at Follow @scontorno.

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5 Tampa Bay Area Pool Homes For Under $250K

BRADENTON, FL — Ready to prepare for summer’s heat by moving into a home that boasts a backyard pool and a selling price of $250,000 or less? There are some beautiful options on the Tampa Bay area market that fit the bill.

While everyone has their own idea of the “perfect” house, here are five in the $250,000 or less range that caught our eye

407 Bow Lane
$230,000 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,675 square feet
2924 Noble Ave.
$192,000 asking price4 bedrooms2 baths1,619 square feet
1834 Elaine Drive
$219,900 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,208 square feet
15924 Marshfield Drive
$244,900 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,620 square feet
Land O’ Lakes
19347 Otters Wick Way
$229,800 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,589 square feet

Photos and information via

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FOX Sports Sun to televise Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL All-Star Weekend press conference

TAMPA, Fla. — FOX Sports Sun, the regional television home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, announced plans to televise Thursday’s scheduled press conference where Lightning and National Hockey League officials will discuss and detail 2018 NHL® All-Star Weekend, planned for AMALIE Arena on January 27-28. Statewide television coverage will begin Thursday, June 1 at 2 p.m. on FOX Sports Sun, in addition to streaming live on FOX Sports GO.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins and Tampa Bay Lightning Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik are all scheduled to speak at the press conference. The 2018 NHL® All-Star Game will mark the second time Tampa will host the event. The Lightning and Tampa previously hosted the NHL All-Star Game in 1999, successfully welcoming thousands of NHL fans, executives and personalities to the city.

About FOX Sports Florida / FOX SPORTS SUN

FOX Sports Florida & FOX Sports Sun are the regional television homes of the Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Heat, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. The regional sports networks have been fixtures in the homes of sports fans throughout the Sunshine State for over 20 years. Today, the networks combine to produce more than 700 live sporting events and over 300 studio based and original programs year round. FOX Sports Florida and FOX Sports Sun are committed to making a positive impact in the communities we serve by engaging our audiences and providing award winning TV and web coverage of Florida’s hometown sports teams. For more information, channel listings and how you can get involved with FOX Sports Florida / FOX Sports Sun, visit

Kevin Cash: We’ve asked a lot of our guys, and they’ve come through

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Buccaneers sign first-round pick O.J. Howard

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tight end O.J. Howard has signed his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Howard, who was the 19th overall pick in last month’s NFL draft, signed a four-year deal on Monday that includes a team option for a fifth season. He is the first of Tampa Bay’s six draft picks to sign.

Howard, who is 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, was a third-team Associated Press All-America selection last season. He started 12 of Alabama’s 14 games last season and had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns.

The drafting of Howard and signing DeSean Jackson in free agency should give Jameis Winston more options in Tampa Bay’s passing game.

The Buccaneers also announced that defensive end Jacquies Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender.

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Florida A&M Rattlers Prepare to Square Off with Tennessee State Tigers in 2017 Tampa Classic

FAMU head coach Alex Wood and TSU Coach Rod Reed

TAMPA, Florida – Florida A&M University (FAMU), Tennessee State University (TSU) and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission gathered to formally announce the FAMU Tampa Football Classic which will be held on Saturday, September 16 at 6 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) classic football game will be a true clash of the titans, featuring two of college football’s storied programs.

"We are extremely excited to return to the Bay Area with the Tampa Classic at Raymond James Stadium and look to continue our long-standing tradition of successful classic games through collaboration with our partners in the City of Tampa,” said FAMU Athletic Director, Milton Overton. “Our matchup against Tennessee State will prove to be an exciting contest reminiscent of legendary matchups between coaches Jake Gaither and John Merritt.”

The two teams have faced off numerous times since 1944, with the Tigers holding a narrow 30-24 edge over the Rattlers. Both programs rank in the NCAA Division I FCS Top Ten in all-time winning percentage, and the two schools have combined to win 22 Black College National Championships (FAMU 12, TSU 10). It’s a match-up that shouldn’t be missed.

Before the teams collide on the field, there will be an exciting series of events designed to welcome fans and engage the community.

On Friday, September 15, fans can join community partners, local business leaders and university officials for the FAMU Kickoff Luncheon. This energizing afternoon will feature a number of special guest speakers and provide attendees with a preview of the game and weekend events.

The FAMU Battle of the Bandswill feature top marching bands performing energetic and dynamic routines for fans. This incredible event will also feature performances by our participating schools’ two elite bands, the FAMU “Marching 100” and the TSU “Aristocrat of Bands.”

Finally, the celebration continues on Saturday, September 16 at the FAMU FanFestwhere fans of both teams are invited to enjoy food, beverage and live entertainment all leading into kick-off of this exciting matchup.

“There is no doubt that the FAMU Tampa Football Classic will offer an exciting match-up on the field, but we are equally excited by this series of incredible fan events that will be featured throughout the weekend,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “We are thrilled to be welcoming FAMU and TSU fans to our community and to showcase all that Tampa Bay has to offer.”

Tickets for the FAMU Tampa Football Classic start at $38. Select seat locations are available now on All stadium seating locations will go on sale to the general public beginning on June 1 at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase premium seating before June 1 by signing up to become a FAMU Investing In Champions member. For more information on how to join, visit Additional details for each of the ancillary events will be released in the coming weeks. To learn more visit and follow @SportsTampaBay on Twitter.


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The Best Things To Do In Tampa Florida

Most who visit Florida spend most of their time in the Orlando area. It’s understandable, but these visitors are missing out on the awesome things that Tampa Florida offers just an hour away! Here are three things you’ll definitely want to check out:

Visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Now, this park is pretty neglected by fans of the other parks in Orlando. This will actually work to your benefit as Busch Gardens is definitely a diamond in the rough. Sporting amazing coasters like Shiekra and Cobra’s Curse, there’s something for every thrill seeker out there.

The park’s Halloween and Christmas events are also probably the best in Florida, especially since the crowds are more sparse.

Head Over To Clearwater Beach

Every Florida “guide” out there will tell you that Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach are the best beaches to visit in Central Florida. They’re good tourist beaches, for sure, but Clearwater beach is rarely mentioned on purpose. It is easily the best beach in Central Florida. The sand is pristine, the water is usually clearer (hence the name) and the other visitors are very respectful.

The only thing you really need to worry about? Accidentally stepping on a ray! As long as you shuffle your feet in the water though you should be fine.

Catch A Cheap Rays Game

There was a brief time in the mid-2000s where the Tampa Bay Rays really looked like they would vault to perennial contender status with the Yankees and Red Sox. The team, unfortunately, hasn’t panned out as planned and usually sits on the edge (or out) of playoff contention.

The good news is that this means the tickets are very cheap, even when a high caliber team comes to town!

Tampa Florida offers a lot more than these experiences, so do some more research and consider adding a stop on your next Florida visit!

New Tampa, FL Real Estate: Open Houses

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in New Tampa this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways: Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near New Tampa listed by our partners at

Joe Cole on following in the footsteps of Rodney Marsh in Florida: ‘I thought I was finished but I feel alive in Tampa’

There used to be a joke around Tampa Bay that St Petersburg was where old people went to die. ‘God’s waiting room,’ they called the city.

But for Joe Cole, now a football veteran, joining Tampa Bay Rowdies has given him his life — and playing career — back again.

In an interview at his plush apartment in downtown St Pete — as the locals call it — Cole reveals how he almost retired from playing in 2015 when his body failed him, explains why he has become Tampa Bay’s resident expert on Brexit and what former club Chelsea will miss most when his friend John Terry leaves in the summer.

Joe Cole joined the North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies in May 2016

Yet while he talks enthusiastically about the game, an aspect he most relishes about moving away from England is that he can walk down the street and not get asked about football.

Rowdies employees say the thing they like about Cole is that although he is a big star, he is known as ‘Joe who gets coffee every morning’, at the local coffee shop on 2nd Avenue, and ‘Joe who watches the game at the bar’ — favouring The Moon Under Water, a British pub beneath his apartment building.

It is here that he spends time watching more Premier League football than he ever did back in England, sitting under the Scotland and St George’s flags hanging from the ceiling and the Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool scarves around the bar, a small part of home, 4,500 miles away.

Cole celebrates with Rowdies’ Neil Collins, who also played in England with Sunderland

‘I’ll have more conversations with people because it’s not all about football,’ he says. ‘For some reason I’ve become the expert on Brexit for the whole of Beach Drive. They hear my accent and ask me what’s happening. I say, "It might affect coffee prices".’

Cole walks the half-mile from his apartment to training and home games at the Al Lang Stadium, where they play on a patchwork pitch, palm trees in one corner and yachts on view from another.

He cannot completely escape home. As we stroll to the recent home game against Charleston, two Americans call his name, shout ‘Irons’ and make West Ham’s trademark X with their forearms (which Cole returns), but largely he is left alone.

Cole admits he considered retirement at Aston Villa ‘because my body was letting me down’

‘I walk down the road every day, I’ll say "Hello" to the guys in the coffee shop. They’ll ask how we got on at the weekend — that’s it. Then it’ll be like, "Lovely day", or "What’s going on with Theresa May and the election?" — that’ll be the new one now.’

Cole, now 35, returned to England last Christmas and found the attention difficult. ‘It was really getting to me because I’d not had it for seven months. I realise the anonymity I get here is precious.’

Yet none of this would be an issue if Cole had retired at Aston Villa. ‘I was considering packing it in, because my body was letting me down,’ he admits.

Cole celebrates winning the Premier League with his wife Carly and daughter Ruby Tatiana

‘At Villa a doctor said I needed surgery on my hip but I couldn’t afford the time. I was training on one leg for six months. I should’ve just got it sorted. It didn’t work and I was disenchanted.

‘I went all around the world looking for people: Belgium, Germany, America, all the best people and no one could sort me out. Ever since I did my knee at Chelsea (in 2009) it was an uphill struggle.

‘I tried all the weirdest, wackiest treatments: chiropractors, osteopaths, reflexologists, acupuncturists, physios, kinetic energy people, I’ve had nutters putting magnets on me. I stopped short of seeing a faith healer. I went to see a guy in London and it was last-chance saloon.’

Joe Cole scored during a match against Charleston Battery for the Tampa Bay Rowdies
Marsh during his spell at the North American Soccer League club – from 1984-1986
Marsh competes for the ball against Pele – the Brazilian was playing for the New York Cosmos

Cole was taught to listen to his body and to stop putting pressure on it. He adds: ‘Then I moved to Coventry and played without injury and I got my love back for the game, then Tampa Bay came along. I’m just as proud of anything I achieve now as what I achieved in my prime. I wish I found this way (of managing my body) six years ago, just after I did my knee. I’m convinced I’d still be playing in the Premier League.’

Unlike Cole, his former England and Chelsea team-mate Terry largely avoided injury and only now, at 36, has he decided to leave Stamford Bridge. Cole used to go out drinking in Essex with Terry and Michael Carrick when they were younger players.

Cole was in the massage room at Chelsea’s training ground with Terry when the defender received the call from Steve McClaren in 2006 to say he was being made England captain.

Cole during his spell in Ligue 1 with Lille, who he joined on loan from Liverpool in 2011

‘When I signed for Chelsea, he was the first person to see me as I walked through the door,’ Cole says. ‘Although he’s only a few months older, he put his arm around me and it was like, "I’ll look after you" like the new kid at school, like an older brother.

‘Chelsea will miss that. They are a well-run club but forget everything he does on the pitch, it’s the unseen things as a captain. I remember I was having a bit of a rough time there. He recognised it and got one of the video analysts to make a compilation of all my best bits. It was a little touch but it really lifted me.

‘For him to even notice that… in football you’re so focused on yourself and your own game, to have an eye on everyone else in the club is remarkable. You can’t quantify that. He was a younger man then, as well, and to have that empathy — that’s one of a million things the club will miss.

Cole came through West Ham’s youth system before leaving the club for Chelsea in 2003

‘They’ll have to spend a lot of money to replace him. He’d love it out here. He’d be perfect for any club out here. Anyone would take him.’

The Florida way of life might be more relaxed for Cole but the sporting demands are still intense. When we meet for this interview, he has just been away for six days playing games in Louisville and Cincinnati.

His one-year-old son Max is already in bed, but Ruby, seven, and Harry, four, have waited up to see dad. As the discussion continues, they both climb on a knee and Ruby calls him the best daddy ever. ‘Why you being nice to me? You’re never nice to me!’ Cole jokes, and they dissolve into giggles.

Cole says his time as a Coventry player in League One ‘got his love back for the game’

‘It’s nice to be playing football and still wanted — that’s what I do it for,’ Cole says, the words muffled by his children’s cheeks squashing his face. ‘I’d love still to be playing in the Premier League but my body unfortunately slowed down a lot quicker than other people’s.

‘I started young, similar to Wayne Rooney, I blew out my knee at 28. I’d love still to be playing for England. I watched the Champions League games the other week and felt that buzz.’

Here, Cole is part of something bigger than just football: he is a key player in a shift of sporting culture. Football once flourished in the area, when Rodney Marsh arrived in 1976 with his long golden locks — complementing the club’s gold and green colours — and they won the North American Soccer League in his first season.

The original Rowdies averaged 30,000 attendances at their peak and Marsh became one of the Bay’s most loved athletes. They folded in 1994, but the Rowdies returned in 2008 and real estate billionaire Bill Edwards became majority owner in 2013. Cole is Edwards’s Marsh.

Cole’s spell at Liverpool saw the midfielder struggle with a series of injury problems

‘There were a couple of times when I needed to get home for a family emergency and Bill let me use his jet,’ Cole says. ‘Imagine how much that costs him. My grandad was a big QPR fan so he grew up telling me stories about Rodney Marsh. He wanted me to play like him. Tampa Bay Rowdies were always in my mind.’

Now, they are challenging towards the top of the United Soccer League’s Eastern Conference and a bid to join the MLS has been lodged at the league’s New York HQ. The recognition Cole brings is a major part of that.

At the club, he is helping coach younger players and has input into decisions with manager Stuart Campbell. Cole wants a crack at management after he retires, although he has not decided when that will be. He has helped coach England Under 18s and is completing his A licence. The ultimate aim will be to manage the national team he is passionate about, having been part of the under—achieving ‘golden generation’.

‘John Stones, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Eric Dier — they’re better than us, better players, a better group, they just need a bit of time and belief and they can do it.

‘Ross Barkley or Dele Alli could win you the next World Cup, but they’ve got to be allowed to make mistakes.

‘The "golden generation" came from the fact we were all so young doing so much in the Premier League. Most of these guys have taken slightly longer to get in the teams but they’ll be more seasoned than us come tournament time.’

‘God’s waiting room’ has brought Joe Cole back to life.

Cole describes Ross Barkley (pictured), Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Eric Dier as ‘better than us’