The past 18 months sure have been kind to Lewis Cook.
During this period, the young lad from Yorkshire has burst on the scene with our beloved Leeds United and has very quickly become the first name picked every week. He has been selected for England's Under-19 squad, drawn attention from clubs in the Premier League, and shown off talents that defy what a 19-year-old should be capable of. Case in point, here was Cook’s wonder strike against Fulham back in February...
As Matt Robinson stated last week, the best reason for Leeds United fans to be cheerful is this lad, Lewis Cook. The kid is that good, and United fans aren’t the only ones taking notice.
Cook capped off his magical rise to football prominence by being awarded the Football League’s Young Player of the Year on Sunday night. It is an award previously won by the likes of Gareth Bale, Dele Alli and Fabian Delph, a former Leeds United prospect himself. All three men have carved successful careers in the Premier League and other top-flight leagues across Europe.
In tribute to Cook taking home this impressive award let’s explore a few questions, all Lewis Cook related of course!
Who is Lewis Cook, the footballer?
A very talented central midfielder is the short answer. Playing in a side that has failed to reach great heights, Cook has been a maestro around the hallowed turf of Elland Road.
Cook joined the Leeds United academy as a youngster, quickly progressing through the ranks. He made his senior debut at age 17, coming off the bench in the 64th minute versus Millwall on the opening day of the 2014-15 Championship season.
Cook is the rare type of midfielder who is skilled enough to be a playmaking force in attack and physically equipped to win his own ball while running out a full 90 minutes every week. He is most dangerous when patrolling around the defensive third and launching the Leeds United counter-attacking game style. These talents were on display against Wolverhampton on Tuesday night.
Cook’s performance here is an illustration of everything he can offer and in the words of manager Steve Evans, it was "as good a midfield performance as you could wish to see."
Grace and composure are two words that spring to mind when watching Cook in action. Cook’s confidence on the ball is powerful and while despite not possessing scintillating pace or a nose for 20 goals a season (yet), he is constantly dribbling around the field and shedding defenders.
One problem for Cook thus far in his young career has been the comical upheaval going on around him at Leeds. Since debuting less than two years ago, Cook has remarkably played for six different mangers. This means six different sets of formations, strategies and voices – not ideal for a young man trying to establish a professional career. It’s no surprise Cook has found elite form under the (current) stability of Steve Evans.
Is there a Lewis Cook hype video available?
You bet there is!! Thank you internet!!
What can we learn from previous winners of the Young Player of the Year Award?
The most optimistic United fans will point at previous winners like Bale and Alli as a guide of what Cook can become. This is obviously a best-case scenario but not one that should be expected.
It would be unfair to expect Cook to become Gareth Bale overnight but the promise is endless. Cook has been around the England national team set up since the age of 15 and this bodes well for his long-term development.
One thing is clear however, a player of Cook’s quality probably belongs in the Premier League. The comparison to Alli is very interesting and we should all be looking at his journey from MK Dons to Tottenham. Alli was ready for the big leagues and has successfully made the jump this season. This of course leads into our last question...
Should we as Leeds fans be worried about Premier League interest?
Yes and no.
The interest from the Premier League is real. Bournemouth came hard after Cook during January’s transfer window, and it appears they remain interested in bringing the 19 year old into the fray. Manager Eddie Howe was spotted roaming around the Elland Road bleachers on Tuesday night. Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton have also been linked to Cook at different points this season.
On the other hand, Cook is signed with Leeds through next season and has publicly committed to the club over recent times. Cook stated last week that it would be a dream to play Premier League football for Leeds. (Awesome Lewis, this is my dream as well!)
Ultimately Cook's long-term footballing home will depend on how Leeds fare next season. Build a team that can garner promotion back into the top flight and Cook seems willing to stay. What’s that saying from Field of Dreams? If you build it, he will... stay?
Let’s just hope Leeds can build it, because Lewis Cook is a special talent and it is a joy to watch him play. Better yet, he is ours... let's enjoy it and let’s hope it stays that way for long time.