The immediate reaction to Rooney being left out of Sir Alex Ferguson's starting line-up for last week's Champions League defeat by Real Madrid centred around whether he had any future at Old Trafford. If he did leave, it would mirror the situation Cole found himself in following the arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2001, when he found himself shunted down the pecking order.
At 30, he did not want to hang around as a back-up player and ended up joining Blackburn but looking back, it is a decision Cole now regrets, and he said: "I can understand how Wayne might feel. Looking back on what happened to me, if I hadn't been so headstrong and stubborn I could have stayed at United."
Speaking at the launch of the 'Legends are Back' game between Manchester United and Real Madrid that will take place at Old Trafford on June 2, Cole added: "I wasn't playing regularly and I wasn't a happy man so I made my mind up. In hindsight I should have stayed.
"I had just signed a new contract and had a fantastic relationship with the manager. We talked about it numerous times before he finally said he would let me go. You make decisions for a reason and that was simply because I wanted to play. But it was the wrong thing to do."
Cole believes those sentiments are even more true now given the game is even more based around a squad system. And he does not think Rooney should allow the selection for one match overshadow everything else he has achieved at Old Trafford.
"One game cannot determine your career at a football club," said Cole. "The manager leaves big players out of big matches. It has happened down the years. I was one of them."
Cole is adamant Rooney still has a significant contribution still to make to the Old Trafford cause.
"Wayne has got bags of ability and I don't think this is going to make any difference to how the manager sees him," added Cole. "He still has a massive future at Manchester United.
"Robin van Persie has come in and done extremely well but Wayne will play numerous amounts of games for United and score lots of goals. I cannot see it being a problem."
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