It’s fair to say battling relegation this season will not faze George Cox one bit. The 22-year-old left-back on loan at Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard has already come through so much to be able to call himself a professional footballer.
The Brighton defender found out in 2018 that he had an irregular heartbeat and at real risk of a heart attack during a training session or a match. Thankfully for Cox, the corrective surgery was a success and he is now playing some of the best football of his career.
After the scare, Cox returned to fitness playing for Brighton’s under-21s in the EFL Trophy before making his senior debut in January 2019 during a loan spell with Northampton Town.
At the end of his spell in League Two, Cox returned to the Seagulls hoping for another move in the English pyramid but was instead delighted to be given the chance to continue his development abroad when Dutch top-flight side Fortuna Sittard made an offer to take him on loan for the season.
Since then, the 22-year-old has made 21 appearances in all competitions as his side sit a couple of places above the relegation spots in the Eredivisie. He has been Fortuna’s regular left back and has impressed with his solid defensive displays with WhoScored listing his strengths this season as his interceptions and blocking and he has also contributed 14 key passes.
A particular highlight for Fortuna this season was their unexpected 4-2 win over Dutch giants Feyenoord, a game where Cox’s compatriot Bassala Sambou was on the scoresheet.
I caught up with George to see how life in Holland was treating him.
English Players Abroad: How did the move to Holland come about and what tempted you to make the move?
George Cox: I was playing for Brighton U23s at the start of the season and just playing hoping to get a loan to League 1 or 2 but as soon as this opportunity came up, I didn’t hesitate. The thought of playing in big stadiums against big clubs. You can’t turn down that opportunity.
EPA: How have you found living abroad? Have you settled in well?
GC: Living abroad is a lot easier than what people think. When I go back to England I even miss it! With being in Holland the language barrier isn’t a problem as everyone speaks English and also having my girlfriend over here makes it a lot easier.
EPA: The loan spell looks like it’s going well with lots of minutes under your belt, how does the Eredivisie standard compared to what you’re used to?
GC: Of course when you move you want to play as much as possible and in my case I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of games already. I would say I don’t have loads to compare it too but it’s a lot more demanding in all aspects compared to under-23 football.
EPA: Finally what are your aims for the rest of the season?
GC: My aims as an individual is to keep improving and doing my best every week. As a team of course to get ourselves safe from relegation and then start pushing on. In the summer we will then see but that’s still a long time away.