Ferdinand earned his call-up under ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle and represented his country 81 times on the international stage, including at World Cup tournaments.
However, Ferdinand admitted that he was always surprised at how one United legend didn’t make more international appearances for the Three Lions.
Even the former United and England defender claimed that he had a tough time against one ex-Three Lions international, saying he was “strong” and “quick.”
Ferdinand talks Andy Cole’s England career
The 52-year-old ex-United star scored only once for England, with Hoddle famously proclaiming that Cole was the type of striker who only scored one in five chances.
However, Hoddle’s criticism of Cole looked poor when compared with the ex-England international’s goalscoring output for United and in the Premier League as a whole.
Speaking on Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE, Ferdinand admitted that Cole’s lack of opportunity for England came down to the stacked competition he was facing.
“I think one of the ones that always jumps off the page to me is Andy Cole,” he said on his YouTube channel.
“Top goalscorer, won Golden Boots and sometimes didn’t even get into the [England] squad.
“I used to think, ‘What is going on here?’ I don’t even think he even got 30 caps. What did he get? 15 caps. Andy Cole was regularly at the top of the goalscoring charts, one of the top goalscorers ever in the Premier League and [he] got 15 caps.
“Now, listen, the unfortunate thing for him is the era he was in you had Alan Shearer, you had Teddy Sheringham, who were the two mainstay starters who were a really good blend and [a] good mix of players.
“But behind that, you had like Ian Wright, Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, even Dion Dublin was coming into that, Stan Collymore, Matt Le Tissier. I’m probably missing people out here.
“The depth of talent around them times was crazy, so as much as I think Andy Cole will be p****d, he’ll be upset with it, it weren’t like he was being kept out by somebody who was below par.”
Ferdinand on playing against Cole
Ferdinand arrived at Old Trafford in 2002 from Leeds United, which came after Cole’s departure from United to Blackburn Rovers in 2001.
However, the former United centre-back was in the England squad at the same time as Cole and knew all too well how impressive of a player he was in training.
“I always knew what time it was when you played Andy Cole, you had to be on it because he scores goals,” he said.
“Whether he be at Newcastle, whether he be at Man United, even after that when he went to Blackburn [Rovers] and even went to City and clubs like that, you think to yourself the guy was just a proper footballer. I trained against him and he was hard to play against in training.
“Strong, quick, always on the shoulder, could play hold up as well. His all-round game was good, man. But he was just a mad finisher. He was hard to play against, Andy Cole.”