‘DREAM COME TRUE’ FOR COOK

Proud moment for The Cherries...

AFC BOURNEMOUTH midfielder Lewis Cook said making his England debut against Italy at Wembley Stadium was a “dream come true”.

The 21-year-old became the first serving Cherries player to feature for the Three Lions when he took to the field in the 71st minute of the game against the Azzurri.

Cook, who had captained the England Under-20 side to World Cup glory last summer, was grateful to Gareth Southgate for giving him his opportunity against Italy.

“It was a great achievement for me and my family,” he said. “It makes me incredibly proud and was a dream come true really.

“I’ve had a lot of people saying congratulations and saying how happy they are for me.

“From a club point of view, being the first person [to play for England] is a great achievement. I thank the club for helping me get there.”

Many footballers like to swap their shirts with the opposition, but Cook was only interested in keeping his.

“I’ve not just kept the shirt but I’ve kept my full kit!” he said. “I will get a cap as well, but they have to go away and make it. I’ll get it all framed so it looks nice in my house.

“It was an unforgettable moment for sure.”

Cook did his chances of a World Cup spot no harm, but revealed that he did not speak to Southgate afterwards about his potential place on the plane to Russia.

The midfielder says he is just fully focused on his club career.

“I have to focus on my club at the moment before I can even think about being in the World Cup squad,” said Cook. “But I really enjoyed the camp. If I’m doing well then you never know what could happen.”

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe certainly feels Cook’s England debut could benefit the club.

“I was watching the game closely hoping he would get on,” said Howe. “It was a really historic moment for the football club when he did.

“I am sure I speak for other Bournemouth fans in congratulating him. We’re very proud of him and it was a great moment for his family as well.

“To do it at Wembley against a team like Italy and do well was very special for him.”

Howe added: “I think this will give him self-belief and confidence. It was a great experience for him and one I am sure he will never forget.

“The aim for him now is to improve every day – as he has done since he joined us from Leeds – and to fulfil the potential he has.”

Howe feels there is an opportunity for Cook to force his way into Southgate’s squad.

“Bournemouth will do all they can to help with that,” said Howe. “However, the priority for him is to maintain his form with us and just focus on the next game.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.