When former Leeds United starlet Lewis Cook was bursting onto the scene, then-Whites manager Dave Hockaday waxed lyrical about the young prospect, saying: “if you chopped Lewis’ head off and put an older head on his shoulders, you wouldn’t be surprised”.
It was Hockaday who handed the midfielder his debut and first start for Leeds before he left the club, and some of the credit for Cook’s emergence surely must go to the former Whites boss for placing his trust in him.
Cook, who came through the academy at Thorp Arch, was someone who predominantly played in the middle of the park, but could also operate out wide just like he did in his final season at Elland Road in the 2015/16 campaign.
Hailed as a “special talent” by former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, Cook’s time with the Cherries has been absolutely shattered by injury after injury; and earlier this year, he suffered another long-term knee injury which has kept him out of first team action until now.
It’s all meant that the midfielder has played just 120 times for the south coast club in his five years there (no Championship appearances since mid-March), and new Bournemouth manager Scott Parker recently admitted he could empathise with Cook’s plight.
He said: “I was a player a little while ago and I realise during injuries they’re the worst moments really, when you feel really low. Certainly long-term ones and to go and do the same injury like Lewis has, psychologically that probably would’ve been a big blow for him in that sense.
“I think I see that where he is currently as well. I’m sure it’s been some tough moments for Lewis, just in the nature of two injuries and long-term like they’ve been. But I’ve certainly been impressed with him where he is.”
It’s been a tragic downturn in fortune for the 24-year-old Cook, but from a purely business sense in respects to Leeds, they cashed in the absolute perfect time on a player who was rapidly rising through the ranks at Elland Road.
Nobody could have predicted the scale and extent of the injuries that he would end up suffering following his exit from Yorkshire, but the Whites got out when they could.