George Cox is aware of how Erling Haaland feels, having spent the earlier night time watching Borussia Dortmund get ripped aside at the Johan Cruyff Enviornment. The defender’s Fortuna Sittard facet have often succumbed to Ajax, together with a 5-2 defeat in Amsterdam final season. The place Cox and Haaland differ is the previous Brighton man scored twice.
A 30-yard first-time strike too scorching for André Onana to deal with and a second pinged throughout the goalkeeper into the nook made individuals take discover of the affect Cox was having within the Eredivisie. “After that recreation, my telephone had by no means gone so psychological, it was baking scorching,” Cox says. “It didn’t sink in till a day after that I had scored two towards Ajax at their stadium. Nonetheless to this present day individuals ask me about it and it will be a type of moments that will stay with me for ever.”
Pitting himself towards Champions League sides attracted Cox to the Netherlands in 2019. The left-back had frolicked on mortgage at Northampton in League Two – a stark actuality test after coming via the ranks at Brighton. To keep away from having his improvement stifled within the decrease leagues, Cox took the chance of transferring overseas.
“It was key to go someplace I might play and that’s what mattered most,” he says. “For those who go to League One, you realize what it’s like, should you make one mistake you’re out for six weeks, which isn’t good for improvement.”
Cox’s success has not gone unnoticed again dwelling and he got here near becoming a member of QPR in the summertime, taking a tour of the coaching floor and figuring out the place he would reside earlier than the deal fell via at the final minute. The 23-year-old is aware of the Championship or a transfer to a different top-flight membership overseas could be the best subsequent step after greater than 60 video games creating at Fortuna. The left-back is being monitored by golf equipment in England, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe.
“Individuals are clearly telling you what must be higher but it surely’s not like in England the place you will have 4 or 5 individuals screaming at you. It is vitally aggressive however there’s extra of a studying course of to creating a mistake, whereas in England that you must ‘develop up and do that now’. For youthful guys that is good and for me it’s been good however I’m able to take the subsequent step now as a result of I’ve gone previous this stage. Youthful guys who’re studying get swallowed up by the decrease leagues as they simply can’t cope with it as a result of in the event that they make a mistake they’re out and can’t discover a rhythm.”
At Brighton, Cox educated with the primary crew beneath Chris Hughton however by no means featured in a aggressive match. “With the supervisor now [Graham Potter], I feel I might have suited the best way he performs. If I used to be two or three years youthful I feel I might have gotten the possibility there however I used to be at some extent the place I used to be needing to play video games, so needed to go away. Chris was actually good with me, he at all times had me coaching with the primary crew however I simply didn’t go well with what he needed from a left-back.”
At Brighton coronary heart monitoring detected an irregular beat which required surgical procedure. If it had not been picked up throughout screening, Cox might have suffered a cardiac arrest whereas taking part in. With any sportsperson the information of a coronary heart concern is regarding however the operation corrected the issue, permitting Cox to return to the sport.
He has made the many of the life-changing second. “It was a life shock, it made me recognize issues much more, as you by no means know what’s across the nook. It actually opened me up as an individual and when it opens you up as an individual, you then turn out to be extra open to extra stuff in regular life.”
Others haven’t been as lucky as Cox, making every time he sees a participant collapse on a pitch a stark reminder of what might have occurred. “The [Christian] Eriksen one was a major instance and particularly with how a lot was caught on TV was horrendous. It might need not received to that time however the truth they discovered it so early makes me very fortunate.”
Cox is one in every of numerous gamers to indicate there’s a completely different path to the perennial one-year offers in League Two. Younger gamers and people who are usually not having fun with life within the decrease tiers come to Cox for recommendation.
“Gamers who’ve gone right down to League One or Two and it’s not labored out need to know what it’s prefer to play overseas. It’s a good place for individuals to study the commerce.” He cites the instance of PSV’s England Below-21 worldwide Noni Madueke, who got here via the youth ranks at Spurs. “It’s a good place to play video games and get expertise towards high groups. He’s clearly taking part in in a high crew however for me it’s a case of desirous to show your self towards sides like Ajax and PSV. It was the very best factor to maneuver right here and it’s paid off.”