Exiled Liverpool Midfielder Joe Cole Shines in French League Debut Liverpool property and on-loan Lille midfielder Joe Cole shined in his Ligue 1 debut on Saturday.The defending champions of France won 3-1 at St. Etiene and are full of confidence ahead of their UEFA Champions League opener on Wednesday against Russian club CSKA Moscow.

By most accounts, the England international put in a solid performance in 25 minutes of work. He helped put the game out of reach in the 86th minute with a sensational run through the opposing defense, before slotting his pass back to Ludovic Obraniak for Lille's third.

Cole was once billed as the next English soccer superstar, but has largely failed to hit those expected heights. To be fair, he has nevertheless enjoyed a fine career in English soccer.  

The midfielder was discarded by Chelsea and joined Liverpool on a free transfer last summer. His Anfield career was stunted before it got a chance to start, when he was sent off in his league debut for the club last August against Arsenal.

He joked with the Daily Mirror about his contrasting debuts.

"It wasn’t a bad debut — then again, anything less than a sending off would have been an improvement."

Cole says he is settling into his new surroundings nicely and looks forward to further integrating himself into the Lille team.

"Everything has happened so quickly. But every day I go into work, it becomes a little bit more familiar and I think to myself, 'Yeah, I'm in the right place here.' The way they play football suits me down to the ground. I'm really enjoying it."

A full season of League 1 and UEFA Champions League action would suit Cole, Lille and Liverpool nicely. He might return a refreshed player, challenging for a place in a Liverpool team looking to play more games next season (assuming it qualifies for a place in one of next season's continental competitions). If he fails to find a place in the LFC squad, the club will be able to move him to another club for a reasonable fee.