Steve Cook's importance to the AFC Bournemouth backline continues to grow seven years after he first joined the club.
Born in East Sussex, Cook joined hometown club Brighton & Hove Albion in 2007, aged 16. He made his debut against Manchester City in the League Cup the following year, before heading out on loan to Havant & Waterlooville for six weeks in December.
Upon his return, the defender was back in the Seagulls’ starting line-up, with his first league appearance coming in a 4-0 defeat to Crewe Alexandra. However, after signing professional terms with Brighton in May 2009, Cook sought regular first-team football, joining Conference South side Eastleigh in November.
The following season, Cook was loaned out again, this time to Eastbourne Borough, with the fellow south coast outfit keen to sign him. However, a deal failed to materialise and he subsequently spent time at Mansfield Town before arriving at Dean Court in 2011.
In January 2012, Cook became a full-time Bournemouth player, signing permanently on a three-and-a-half-year deal.
Ever since, the 25-year-old hasn’t looked back. In his first full season with the Cherries, Cook played 33 times in League One as Eddie Howe’s side finished second and scored in the all important 3-1 win against Carlisle to secure promotion.
Two years later, Cook played in every game and netted on five occasions as the Cherries gained promotion to the Premier League for the first time, winning the Championship in the process.
In his maiden top-flight season, Cook played a pivotal part as Bournemouth finished 16th, scoring the winner against Swansea and the first of two goals as the Cherries overcame local rivals Southampton.
Bournemouth’s number three then started the 2016/17 campaign as he left off, retaining his place in the starting line-up and scoring in the remarkable 6-1 victory over Hull City and the breathtaking 4-3 win against Premier League giants Liverpool.
Cook ended the season having played every Premier League minute, with the most clearances out of any other defender in the division, and the most headed clearances of any top flight player too - which helped him secure the Bournemouth Echo Micky Cave Player of the Season for 2016/17 as well as the club's Goal of the Season 2016/17 for his strike against Liverpool.
With Nathan Ake brought into bolster the defence ahead of 2017/18, Cook switched sides in the central defensive areas and in November scored a dramatic last-minute winner away at Newcastle, one of three goals he scored across the campaign.
SPONSORED BY: Yates