The 31-year-old returned to his boyhood club after moving on a free transfer from Liverpool, and looks set to go straight into the squad for the FA Cup third-round tie against Manchester United.
Cole emerged from West Ham's academy to sign professional terms in 1998, becoming a firm fans' favourite before leaving for Chelsea in 2003 after the east London club were relegated from the Premier League.
The midfielder, capped 56 times by England, got his introduction to first-team football with the Hammers back in January 1999, in an FA Cup tie against Swansea at Upton Park.
"I can remember I was cleaning the changing room floors when big Frank (Lampard senior) came in and said to me 'You got a suit son? You're in the squad tomorrow'," Cole said.
"I had to finish cleaning the floors, finish cleaning the khazi floors too, then got myself home and drove to the ground four hours early as I was really nervous.
"I came on when we were 1-0 down and Julian Dicks scored the goal that took us to a replay, then bang, you are there - gone from being a schoolboy to being a pro footballer."
Had things turned out differently Cole could have moved to Manchester United, having turned down an invitation to join the first-team squad at Wembley for the 1996 FA Cup final.
"(United manager) Sir Alex Ferguson did want to sign me as a young kid, but I had made my decision to come here as all my pals were here and I was very comfortable here as a youngster," Cole recalled.
"They asked me to go the (FA) Cup final with them, but it wouldn't have been right going along and taking in all the razzmatazz of the day.
"It would have been lovely for a young kid, I was only 13 at the time, to go the cup final with them, but it wouldn't have been right because I knew I was going to sign for West Ham, so we said no because I didn't want to lead anyone on."
Cole feels happy to be "home" again and close to family ties following a difficult spell at Liverpool, which saw him spend last season on loan in France at Lille.
The creative midfielder, whose previous England appearance came in defeat to Germany at the 2010 World Cup, is adamant there is still more to come.
"I have had a great career, but by no means am I finished. I want to win things here and play for England again," said Cole.
"For me it's all about perceptions and expectations. Where do you expect to be? What do you perceive to be success?"
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce hopes Cole can provide a spark at the heartbeat of his team as they look to maintain their top-flight status once again.
"I will be inspired here, I can feel how I felt as a youngster - hungry to play in the first team and hungry to play for England, hungry to win things," said Cole.
"The 18 months at Liverpool were difficult because I didn't play as much as I would like.
"I play my best football when I am happy.
"If I am playing consistently and I am happy, then I am sure I can still be the same player I was."
Cole added: "I want to be part of a good team and on an individual level there will always be the England thing in the back of my mind because I played 56 times for my country.
"I haven't played since the World Cup in 2010, so something is missing there.
"I still want to be part of that, but you can't talk yourself into England squads - you have got to perform."