Bournemouth’s Mr Dependable Steve Cook reveals tragic secret behind the last time he missed a game
STEVE COOK remembers every one of the three games he has missed during Bournemouth’s three Premier League seasons.
After they won promotion in 2015, only an ankle knock and the birth of his first son has stopped Cherries’ Mr Dependable playing.
Then, last season, he was dropped by Eddie Howe for the first time in seven years at the club — although that was not the full story.
It came in a week of family tragedy when he desperately tried to battle on as if everything were normal.
Yet Cook revealed his cousin Melissa died suddenly from a blood clot on the day of an EFL Cup tie against Brighton.
And he had kept it all to himself.
He revealed: “We were very close. She was getting ready for work, came out the shower and then . . .
“I had the bad news that morning but kept it to myself and played very poorly.
“I shouldn’t have played. I should have been more open and said.
“The manager would have understood 100 per cent and he did afterwards.
“I was more disappointed I hadn’t told anyone but that is the type of person I am.
“I tried to put it to one side and play but it was the first time in my life we had a big loss in the family.”
Grieving Cook and his family needed tests to see if Melissa’s condition was hereditary — which turned out to be life-saving for one of her brothers.
It all puts football in perspective for Cook, who is determined to enjoy every moment in the top-flight after working his way from League One.
Back then, Bournemouth trained at Canford School, near Wimborne, before driving back to their stadium for lunch.
Cook, 27, added: “It was probably nice for the kids but not ideal for us.”
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Today, Cook lines up against Leicester at the Vitality Stadium — taking on Jamie Vardy, once an opponent during the pair’s non-league days when the defender had spells on loan.
Vardy is set to return for the Foxes after a three-match ban with both teams sitting on two wins out of their first four games ahead of the international break — Cook’s last-minute winner sealing a stunning 2-1 win at West Ham last month.
Leicester’s remarkable title triumph overshadowed Bournemouth’s debut top-flight season after they came up as Championship winners.
This season, Howe’s men went three games unbeaten before losing at Chelsea — yet Watford’s four wins out of four make them the talk of the Prem.
The soundtrack to Cook’s rise has been linked to Watford as he is a massive Elton John fan — much to the amusement of his team-mates.
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Cook confessed: “In our second season in the Premier League, before every game I would listen to his songs to gee me up.
“Last season we were playing Watford, I was listening to his music and I saw the stand that is named after him.
“I was thinking that he was helping me but he’s also a Watford legend.”
I’m Still Standing would be a fitting tune for a man who has been through it all at Bournemouth.