Cheryl’s texts to Ashley Cole as he prepares to wed

As her ex Ashley gets engaged, insiders say the news has hit Cheryl hard and prompted fresh heartache

cheryl cole

by Closer staff |
Published on

It’s been 12 years since Cheryl ended her “fairy-tale” marriage to Ashley Cole. And following the 41-year-old former footballer’s engagement to partner Sharon Canu last week, insiders say the news has left the former Girls Aloud star, 38, with mixed emotions.

Announcing their happy news on Instagram, Italian model Sharon – who shares two children with the former Chelsea star – shared a sweet snap of the couple locking lips amid a sea of white roses, captioned, “The easiest ‘yes’ I’ve ever said.”

A source says, “Cheryl knew this day was coming, but it didn’t stop her feeling stung. The news sparked a deep pain of what could have been.

“While she’s moved on and closed the door on that chapter, it’s still a very painful part of her life. Seeing Ashley settled and happy with his family triggers a lot of emotions, given that was the dream life she’d envisaged she’d have with him.

“She texted Ashley to congratulate him, which genuinely came from the heart, but there’s no denying there was an element of sadness. Their own romantic engagement in Dubai was one of the happiest times of her life.”


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ashley cheryl cole
Ashley was her first husband ©cheryl cole

While Ashley has found his own happy-ever-after since meeting Sharon when he joined Italian club AC Roma in 2014, Cheryl has yet to find long-lasting romance.

Following the couple’s 2010 divorce, she dated American dancer Derek Hough and LA-based choreographer Tre Holloway, before her ill-fated second marriage to French restaurateur, Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini in 2014. The pair eloped for a beach wedding just three months after meeting in Cannes, but the marriage broke down after 18 months – with Cheryl citing his “unreasonable behaviour” in their divorce papers.

In 2016 she seemingly found her fairy-tale ending with One Direction’s Liam Payne, 28, and the pair had son Bear, now five. But the romance ended in 2018, and Liam has since become engaged to Texan model Maya Henry.

Last year, insiders told Closer how Cheryl was mentally preparing herself for Ashley’s engagement, after learning from a friend that a proposal was “imminent”. Their own marriage was plagued by rumours of his infidelity, with Ashley first accused of cheating on the pop star in 2006. In 2010, fresh claims emerged that he had cheated on her with four other women. But the star was close to Ashley’s family and continued to nurture those relationships even after their split – visiting his mum, Sue, who was said to have seen Cheryl as “a daughter” and becoming godmother to Ashley’s niece in 2011.

Check out: a look back at Cheryl's dating history from Ashley Cole to Liam Payne


Cheryl relationship timeline - slider with cover pic

Cheryl timeline1 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

Swipe through to see Cheryl's relationship history...

Ashley Cole2 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

2004-2010: Ashley Cole

Not long into her rise to fame, Cheryl started dating England footballer Ashley Cole, even attending the World Cup with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Coleen Rooney. Clearly smitten, the loved-up pair got married in 2016, penning a six-figure magazine deal at the time.

Ashley Cole3 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

2004-2010: Ashley Cole

However, things started to turn sour for the 'golden couple' when Ashley was accused of 'cheating' on Cheryl just months after their wedding. Despite forgiving the footballer, Ashley continued with his ways, with allegations that he'd been unfaithful rocking their romance yet again. Everything got too much for Chez in 2010, when she filed for divorce from Ashley.

Derek Hough4 of 12

2010-2011: Derek Hough

Cheryl first met professional dancer Derek Hough whilst the pair filmed the music video for her hit track 'Parachute', and it seems they immediately hit it off. The former X Factor judge contracted Malaria in 2010, and she later told Piers Morgan, "I owe my life to Derek... if it wasn't for him I'd be dead."

Derek Hough5 of 12
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2010-2011: Derek Hough

Despite this, it seems the pair were destined to just be friends, with Derek later revealing to the media, "We dated for a while. Absolutely we are still friends, we are still very close."

Tre Holloway6 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

2012-2013: Tre Holloway

It seems Cheryl had quite a thing for professional dancers, as her next boyfriend was the super handsome Tre Holloway. Despite first meeting each other on The X Factor in 2010, the pair didn't grow close until 2012, with Cheryl enlisting Tre's dancing skills for her 'Ghetto Baby' music video.

Tre Holloway7 of 12

2012-2013: Tre Holloway

Things seemed to be getting serious between the two, especially when Tre starred in Cheryl's ITV2 documentary. However, the long-distance relationship didn't work out, with the couple calling it quits in 2013. Speaking at the time, Tre said, "She's an amazing person, an amazing woman, and we are good friends."

Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini8 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

2014-2016: Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini

It looked like Cheryl had found 'the one' when she met French businessman Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini in 2014. Only three months into their romance, Cheryl shocked her fans by announcing she'd married JB, in a secret beach location with her close family and friends.

JB9 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

2014-2016: Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini

After her second marriage, rumours of tension between Cheryl and JB started to arise, with the couple being pictured looking glum on more than one occasion. 18 months after their whirlwind wedding, Cheryl and JB were granted a quickie divorce in October 2018.

2016-2018: Liam Payne10 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Instagram

2016-2018: Liam Payne

Shortly after Cheryl divorced JB, she singer shocked the showbiz world in 2016, when she confirmed she was dating One Direction singer Liam Payne. Despite the pair having a 10-year age gap, and originally meeting when Liam was just 14-years-old on The X Factor, Cheryl and Liam instantly hit it off, posting a number of adorable snaps together.

2016-2018: Liam Payne11 of 12

2016-2018: Liam Payne

After what was the worst kept pregnancy secret of the decade, Cheryl and Liam welcomed a baby boy into the world in March 2017, settling on the name Bear Grey Payne.

2016-2018: Liam Payne12 of 12
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty Images

2016-2018: Liam Payne

Split rumours started to hit the pair in early 2018, but Cheryl and Liam were quick to shut them down, putting on a very loved-up display at the 2018 BRIT Awards. However, just five months later, the couple released a joint statement admitting they've decided to separate. Despite this, the pair remain good friends and co-parent baby Bear.

Ashley was her first husband
Sharon posted this pic after Ashley’s proposal ©ashley cheryl cole

Despite the heartache she endured amid Ashley’s alleged infidelities, when her divorce was finalised, she admitted, “Part of me will always love him. I love his family. I loved what we had.”

She was said to have “been in tears” after he congratulated her following the birth of her son Bear, and a year later, Ashley’s former Arsenal team-mate, Jermaine Pennant, sensationally claimed that she was still “madly in love” with Ashley, saying, “I think Cheryl is still caught up over Ash.”

And while friends say the Newcastle-born star is at peace with Ashley’s news, it’s further sparked her longing to meet her own soulmate.

The source says, “Cheryl’s happy for Ashley and only wants the best for him. She’s so glad he’s become a loyal family man, but there’s part of her that wishes he’d done that for her. Seeing him so content and settled makes her reassess her own life and how much she wants that too.”

Sharon posted this pic after Ashley’s proposal
Her ex, Liam, is engaged to model Maya ©sharon cole and ashley

Cheryl’s also made no secret of her longing to give Bear a sibling – revealing she wants “100 children” and confessing she was looking for a sperm donor in 2020. She said, “I’ve got a friend who has had two children using donors. Not everything has to be conventional.”

And now a source reveals she’s still harbouring dreams that she’ll expand her family, saying, “Cheryl’s been on a couple of dates set-up by friends and while nothing serious has come of them, it’s sparked a newfound confidence and reaffirmed her hope that the perfect man is out there.

“In an ideal world, she wants to fall in love and have more children naturally. But while she’s put the fertility route on hold for now, she’s not going to sit around for too long to wait for her dream man.

“With her 40th birthday coming next year, she wants to ensure she has a back-up so that even if she doesn’t find her soulmate, she can still have her happily ever after being a mother.”

Her ex, Liam, is engaged to model Maya

Sam Faiers plans Sharon Canu's hen do

Sam Faiers and Sharon Canu have become close friends since the TOWIE favourite uprooted from Essex to Surrey two years ago – enjoying girls’ nights out, playdates with their kids and even holidays together.

And pals say Sam, 31 – who’s expecting her third child with her partner, Paul Knightley – has been tasked with planning Sharon’s hen do.

A source says, “Sharon and Sam are incredibly close and Sam was one of the first friends Sharon called to tell her about the proposal. She hinted to Sam that she’d be one of her bridesmaids and in charge of the hen party, which Sam was very flattered by – insisting she wouldn’t let her down.

“Sharon joked that after seeing the Ibiza hen do Sam had planned for her sister, Billie, she knew she was in good hands!”

While the wedding plans are yet to be revealed, insiders say the couple are hoping to tie the knot in Sharon’s native Italy, with an intimate celebration surrounded by family and close friends.

And pals say Sam is planning to host the hen party in the south of France.

The source adds, “Sam had a great trip to St Tropez with Sharon last summer, so she’s looking into renting a luxury villa there. It will be halfway for her British and Italian friends.

“She wants to go all-out and make it the best weekend of her life. She’s already gearing up to help Sharon see out her bachelorette days in style!”

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