Cook flies Robins' nest for dream role
Cheltenham Town's Community Programme Officer Mike Cook has landed a dream job with the Professional Football Association.
Cook, who is based near Stroud, will take up the new role of PFA South West Regional Coach Educator later this month after a decade with the Robins.
He succeeds Guy Whittingham, who joined Portsmouth as development coach earlier this year.
Cook's primary responsibility will be to deliver coach education courses to young scholarship players at professional clubs across the South West, including Southampton, Reading and Cheltenham Town.
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He will also be expected to identify potential stars of the future, reporting directly to England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce.
"It's a high profile position and I have worked my tail off to get it, but it still seems too good to be true," a delighted Cook said.
"Cheltenham have been fantastic and have said I can go whenever I want with their blessing because it's such a great opportunity.
"The PFA's head office is in Bow Lane, London, but I will work from home and drive around to the clubs delivering the courses.
"I am looking forward to doing a good job and it can lead to so many good things, so the world is my oyster."
Cook has a wealth of knowledge and a long list of coaching and teaching qualifications, as well as playing experience with clubs such as Coventry City, Cambridge United and Wycombe Wanderers, where he played under current Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill.
A spinal injury curtailed his promising career at the age of 22 and he prepared himself for a life in coaching from an early age.
Cook has his UEFA A Licence and enjoyed a spell as manager of Cinderford Town.
He joined Cheltenham's Football in the Community scheme in November 1999 and has helped it develop into a thriving programme.
Cook's former assistant Olly Roberts will take over at the helm and he will be supported by Abbie Sadler, who oversees the ladies section of the programme.
"Olly has assisted me for the last 18 months and he is well capable of stepping up to take over," Cook added.