'I owe everything to them' - Lewis Cook on Leeds United journey and life under Neil Redfearn, Uwe Rosler and Steve Evans

FORMER Whites youngster Lewis Cook says he owes everything to Leeds United and that deciding to leave for Bournemouth will prove one of the hardest decisions he will ever have to make.
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York-born Cook worked his way through United's Academy set up before being handed a full Whites league debut under boss Neil Redfearn in the 1-0 win at home to Bolton Wanderers in August 2014.

Having made his first few Whites appearances under former boss David Hockaday, Cook then featured under three more different managers at Leeds in Redfearn, Uwe Rosler and Steve Evans before ultimately leaving the club and joining then Premier League side Bournemouth for an initial fee of £7m rising to £10m in July 2016.

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Four years later, Cook's former side are finally back in the country's top flight after a 16-year absence having stormed to last season's Championship title under Argentinian head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

MAKING HIS MARK: Lewis Cook on his Leeds United full league debut at home to Bolton Wanderers in August 2014. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.MAKING HIS MARK: Lewis Cook on his Leeds United full league debut at home to Bolton Wanderers in August 2014. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
MAKING HIS MARK: Lewis Cook on his Leeds United full league debut at home to Bolton Wanderers in August 2014. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Bournemouth, though, are now facing up to life back in the country's second tier after relegation.

United's 16-year journey from losing their top flight status back in 2004 to last season's promotion is being featured as part of a 'Fall and Rise of Leeds United' documentary on Sky Sports in which Cook reflected on his time with the Whites, starting with the opportunities provided by Redfearn.

"Obviously without him I wouldn't have been in the first team," said 23-year-old England international midfielder Cook.

"I think a lot of players owe a lot to him.

WELL PLAYED LAD: Boss Neil Redfearn with Lewis Cook after his full league debut against Bolton in August 2014. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.WELL PLAYED LAD: Boss Neil Redfearn with Lewis Cook after his full league debut against Bolton in August 2014. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
WELL PLAYED LAD: Boss Neil Redfearn with Lewis Cook after his full league debut against Bolton in August 2014. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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"It was great, we had a young team, all of us living our dreams and playing in the first team."

As part of the Whites managerial merry-go-round under former chairman Massimo Cellino, Redfearn was eventually replaced by Rosler in July 2015.

That summer saw Leeds recruit one of today's promotion winning stars in Stuart Dallas from Brentford as well as striker Chris Wood from Leicester City.

After netting 13 goals in his first season, Wood then finished up as the Championship's top scorer with 27 the following term as United almost made the play-offs under Garry Monk and Cook says Rosler was partly responsible for laying the foundations.

"He made some good signings," said Cook.

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"Obviously you have seen how well Stuey has done and Woody to be fair so I thought we were going in the right direction.

"But again it didn't last too long."

Evans was next but he too was replaced by Monk in June 2016 with Cook sold to the top-flight Cherries the following month.

"He was a character," said Cook of Evans.

"He was a funny guy. He helped me a lot. He was a great presence around the place.

"He had a switch. I think most people might know that he can be really happy and then he can be in your face shouting at you which is fine, every manager has their own style.

"But overall I thought he was a good guy."

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Reflecting on the second half of the 2015-16 season under Evans and ultimately leaving the club, Cook pondered: "I wouldn't say it was a bit of a mess but the club is not what it is now.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I am probably ever going to have to make.

"I see a lot of other players had to do it as well.

"They did everything for me and brought me up as a player and a young person so I owe everything to them."

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Thank you Laura Collins