A Torpoint born and raised footballer has been named as the new captain of Sky Bet Championship side Southampton.
Centre-back Jack Stephens, 29, a former pupil at Torpoint Community College, was announced as the replacement recipient of the captain’s armband at the club after the departure of long-serving player James Ward-Prowse, 28, in a transfer to Premier League side West Ham reported to be worth approximately £30 million.
The announcement comes days after Stephens signed a new, two-year contract at the south coast club, who were relegated from the premier league last season.
While he led the club out in their previous game against Norwich, prior to the confirmation of the James Ward-Prowse transfer to West Ham, this weekend see’s Jack’s first proper game as captain against very familiar opposition as Southampton take on Plymouth Argyle, where he started his career in the Saturday lunchtime kick off.
Recently appointed head coach of Southampton, Russell Martin, praised Stephens, saying: “I love Jack as a character and as a player. An incredible character, a real leader and brave. Really brave. To take the ball, to want the ball, to set the team up, a platform to build off, but also brave in the way he defends and he’s just himself. I really like him and am loving working with him.
“I’m really delighted he’s signed a new contract after a difficult year last year, obviously not being here, so for that to turn around in the way it has and for him to want to sign a new contract and for the ownership group and Jason Wilcox (director of football) and everyone to show him that love and support that they want him to be here and be part of it as much as I do, then I'm really delighted.
“For me, it’s a huge positive for the club and for us and for Jack and for the other players too. He has got a huge amount of love and respect from his teammates in the dressing room and it’s because of how he conducts himself and carries himself, so I’m delighted he’s here and he’s going to be a huge part of what we do.”
Receiving the captain’s armband represents the latest milestone in the successful career enjoyed by the Cornish footballer, whose career started in the Plymouth Argyle academy aged 11 before being bought by Southampton in 2011, aged 16, for a fee of £150,000 after making five appearances for the pilgrims.
His Southampton career has seen Stephens make 124 league appearances for the side, scoring four goals.
Speaking to the Southampton FC official website, ‘Captain Jack’ as he has come to be known by supporters since the announcement of becoming captain, said he was looking forward to the match against the pilgrims. He said: “"That will again probably be another emotional game, back where it all started, at the club that gave me the platform to become a professional footballer, so to go back there as captain is going to be very special for me and very special for my family as well, who will obviously be at the game," he said. "It's going to be a great game and certainly one I'm looking forward to.
"I've got a few mates that are season ticket holders at Plymouth, so they'll be sitting in the Plymouth end probably giving me a little bit of stick, but I'm looking forward to it, it's going to be good.
"They've had a good start to the season, obviously same points as us and they're particularly good at home, especially last season but even the year before. I think over that period of time they've possibly got the best home record in the country, so it's not an easy place to go and not many teams go there and come out with three points, but we're fully aware of the challenge ahead and we're looking forward to it and very hopeful we can get the three points."