Asked if Declan Rice is a West Ham legend, Carlton Cole said: “It’s debatable. What is legend status?
“He’s a captain for West Ham that’s won a trophy. That’s in the history books and you can’t take that away from him.
“Now if you want to talk about legendary status, what are you going to put him in the same category as Billy Bonds, (Sir) Trevor Brooking, Bobby Moore? You can’t can you. It’s a trophy but I think it puts him in cult hero status.
“Of course (it dampened fans’ adoration of Rice that he went to Arsenal)! Listen I love Dec – and he had to do what’s right for him and his family first and foremost so if that’s what he felt comfortable doing then who are we to say anything, that’s what he wanted to do.
“He did do a lot for the club at a time when we needed someone to stand up and he done that. And so did a lot of other players by the way. There were a lot of players that don’t get the respect that Decs gets (for last season).
“Dec was a great player, brought in £105m for us but there are other players as well, never forget that. Players that did help him as well be who he is.
“Soucek goes underrated. He took a lot of flak last season and Declan was the golden child. But Soucek had to sit (to accommodate Rice) which wasn’t actually his game…
“Declan Rice is always going to be a popular figure… but you don’t help yourself when you go over there (to Arsenal) and the first thing he says to the media is like ‘Boy I didn’t know football until I came here’.
“That doesn’t sound too good Decs! Media training yea? It sounds a bit like me when I first came to the club and said I wanted to ‘use it as a stepping stone to get back into the top four’. That went down like a f—–g s–t sandwich… I can’t believe I said that. I’m still at the club nearly 18 years later!”
Cole previously backed Rice to join Man City ahead of Arsenal. He said: “You’d go Man City, would you? That’s not even hating on Arsenal. You go to where the winners are.”