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First team

Birthday boy Cook looking to the future

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

If life really does begin at 30, Steve Cook has certainly got a lot to look forward to.

A hugely-impressive CV already boasts two promotions, more than 400 career appearances – including 168 in the Premier League – and a captain’s armband.

Now in his tenth season at Vitality Stadium, Cook could add another entry should he lead the Cherries back to the top flight at the first attempt.

Signed from Brighton in January 2012 following a successful loan spell, Cook has gone on to repay his modest fee with interest during what has largely been a success-laden stay. 

Ahead of turning 30 on Monday, Cook told afcb.co.uk how he was relishing continuing to play into his fourth decade and how life has changed since he was 20.

He said: “At one point, I was looking forward to being 30 because you can have a good party, get everyone together and really enjoy yourself.

“But lockdown has put an end to that and that’s two birthdays in lockdown for me. It’s a big milestone but I can’t celebrate how I would have liked so that has taken the edge off it a little.

“Turning 30 in football is an age where nowadays people and clubs start looking at you and thinking ‘are you on a decline?’

“I find that strange because a lot of players start playing their best football at 29, 30 and 31. I think I’m in a very good position to be able to do that.

“I played a lot of games up to 30 and still feel I’ve got a lot to give. I’ve played the large majority of the past few seasons and my body feels really good.

“I was 20 when I signed for Bournemouth and have spent the whole of my 20s here. That’s a big thing in a footballer’s career but also in my life.

“I have spent most of my adult life in one place. Things are a lot different to when I first came here. I’m an experienced footballer now whereas then, I was just starting the journey.

“I was very fortunate to have played a couple of seasons in the Football League by the time I was 20 and went through a lot in my football career between the ages of 16 and 20.

“I don’t feel I’m worlds apart from a 20-year-old now. I still feel really fit. I’m a lot more experienced and a lot has changed in my life.”

A father to five-year-old Frey and Eden, who is three, Cook married wife Laura four years ago this summer.

“I know it’s a cheesy saying but if you’re happy off the pitch, you don’t have to worry on it and I’m very happy,” said Cook.

“The majority of men are married at 30, especially footballers. But not many get to play for one club for ten years in the town they have made their home.

“If you are a couple, you are thrown in the deep end with maybe not a lot of friends around. I know how fortunate I am in my married life.

“Being a father is really enjoyable. This season has provided a different challenge because we have had so many games in such a short space of time and we always seem to be on the road!

“Frey is full-time at school and Eden is at nursery three times a week. Being away and them being at school coincides with not seeing them a lot.

“But I am also very fortunate that my working days don’t often go longer than two o’clock on a training day so I’m at home quite a lot to see them when I’m around.

“It’s enjoyable and it’s hard work. It’s getting easier now at nights. Every parent knows how hard it can be with sleeping when they are young.

“I’ve been here almost ten years but I don’t think you ever feel settled as a footballer because things can happen very quickly and we’ve seen that over the past year here.

“You never know in football when you are going to have to uproot and move to the opposite end of the country.

“You have to be flexible like that. For me, I’ve been lucky but who knows what’s going to happen further down the line?”

Asked where he saw himself on his 40th birthday, Cook replied: “First and foremost, I’d like to play at the highest level possible until my legs can’t do it any more. Who knows when that will be?

“Everyone gives you an age of 35 when to finish but I could get to 33 and my legs could go. I could get to 38 and still be playing, you just never know.

“I’ve done a couple of coaching badges and am looking to do more so I’m ready if an opportunity presents itself. I don’t want to regret not being prepared.

“I’d love to stay in football as long as possible, playing and then whatever role became available. I feel like I’ve got a lot of ideas so who knows what the future holds?”

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