GRATEFUL star Steve Cook revealed how his previous clash with Liverpool had provided the launch pad for his Cherries career by declaring: “Without that game, I would probably not be here.”

Cook was thrust into the limelight for a rare first-team appearance against his boyhood heroes in former club Brighton’s televised League Cup game in September 2011.

A month later, rookie Cook arrived at Dean Court on loan before sealing his permanent switch in January 2012. The move heralded a renaissance for his fledgling career which further flourished under the tutelage of returning boss Eddie Howe last season.

Centre-half Cook, 22, has become one of Cherries’ prized assets on the back of some stellar displays in the Championship.

And he remains keen to show just how far he has come when Cherries take on Liverpool in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Dean Court (12.45pm).

Recalling Brighton’s 2-1 defeat at the Amex, Cook told the Daily Echo: “I had been out on loan a couple of times and hadn’t played much for Brighton so it was a great opportunity to play against the club I support.

“It was a strong side. Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt played and Steven Gerrard was making his return from injury.

“Bournemouth had representatives at the game and, a few weeks later, they came in for me. Without that game, I would probably not be here.

“The move happened shortly after so I would say that game was a big part in me signing for club. Thankfully, things have gone really well for me since and, hopefully, I will be able to show I have come on as a player.”

On tomorrow’s match, Cook added: “You have to know when to press and when to realise you are up against it. We are going to have to make it difficult for them because they are playing really well. We will pay them the respect they deserve but we also want to impose our own game and I think people can still expect a lot of attacking football from us.

“If you go all guns blazing against a side like Liverpool, you will most probably get picked off. It is all about getting the timing right, growing into the game and, most importantly, taking the chances when they come.

“You don’t want to come off the pitch with regrets and it is a chance to show what we are capable of against one of the biggest teams in Europe.”