Southampton midfielder Jack Cork has been one of English football's future stars since his rise through Chelsea's youth ranks. Cork joined Chelsea's youth set-up at the age of nine and went on to captain both the youth and reserve team.
After a series of loan-moves, the midfielder now has a Premier League club of his own. Challenged with keeping Southampton in the top-flight, Cork is desperate to kick-start his season after a succession of injuries that followed his Olympic campaign.
SB: What's the hardest thing to deal with when you pick up an injury?
Jack: It's the repetitiveness of having to do the same exercises in the gym over and over again each day. There's always a worry that you're going to pick up another injury as well. I did my ankle in during pre-season and then I did my knee in recently so after that I had to start the rehab and training again from the beginning. You've just got to try and be strong and get through it. I need to get FIFA 13 to keep me busy!
Was it an easy or difficult decision to leave Chelsea permanently?
Jack: I think it was the right time for me to leave and it was easy knowing that I wanted to leave. But it was hard because Chelsea was all I had known because I had been at the club since I was 8 years old. It was always going to hard to leave the club because I did love it there.
The people and staff were great and I've taken away so many memories. To be around so many world-class players was a good experience as well. But I knew that it was time to leave and find a club of my own.
Southampton seems like a close-knit club. What is it like behind the scenes?
Jack: What Southampton looks like is exactly how it is. It's a really close club and I've got some great friends here. I've been with the manager (Nigel Adkins) previously at Scunthorpe. I know a lot about Southampton – I had a six month loan here in 2008 after I had completed my loan at Scunthorpe. I've always been fond of the club and it's been very good to me over the years.
What is it like to play at so many different clubs on loan?
Jack: Each club I went to on loan was different and I loved each one I went to. They were all great to me and I can't talk highly enough about all of them. When I first went on loan it was to Scunthorpe which was so far away from my home. It was the first time I moved away and was a big step for me. I have had so many different experiences from each loan I've been on and it's really helped me grow and develop as a player.
You've worn PUMA for most of your professional career – why PUMA?
Jack: I got a pair of Puma's when I was 16. I had the blue and silver ones – the weird ones with bits on the side, the ones that Robert Pires had! I've just loved Puma boots ever since then and I've stuck with the boots to this day – I'm wearing the PowerCat boots at the moment and they're great for me.
How much have you seen of Gaston Ramirez since he signed for Southampton?
Jack: I've seen him around the training ground and Gaston looks like he's going to be a great player. I've seen what he's been doing in training and in the matches he's already showing that he's a world class player. When I played against him in the Uruguay match at the Olympics he was a real hand-full and I think he's going to be a very exciting player for Southampton this season and hopefully many more.
Was being involved in the Olympics one of your career highlights so far?
Jack : Being involved in the Olympics was such a great experience. We had such a great team set-up and had a massive team of people that looked after us and took us on board. It was great to see how all the other Olympic athletes prepared for their individual events and how focused they were. It was something that I really loved doing and the experience was amazing.
Did you swap any shirts with players during the Olympics?
Jack: I didn't swap any shirts at the Olympics because I knew so many people wanted my Team GB shirts back home! I would have taken Giggsy's if I could but I didn't have the balls the ask him!
Which young English players should fans be excited to see in the future?
Jack: The young English lads at Southampton are brilliant. Luke Shaw and Jack Stevens are definitely ones to watch out for in the future. Chambo (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) is another really exciting player who came from Southampton. There are a lot of young English players coming through at the moment who will start to catch peoples eyes.
What has been your involvement in Mars' “Just Play”?
Jack: It's a scheme set up by MARS to help get more young adults playing football, getting fit and meeting new people. It's all about people coming along and enjoying themselves. People have been turning up by themselves and with friends - it's just about having a laugh and a kick about.
Jack Cork is part of the Mars 'Just Play' programme. Adults can go onto the Just Play website (www.TheFA.com/justplay), enter their postcode, and book themselves onto a kickabout nearby.