Saturday's edition of SAINTS, as Southampton host Newcastle United in the Premier League, features the following extended interview with Jack Stephens...
Standing at the wheel of a boat on The Solent, Jack Stephens is reminded of home.
For years, the defender relied on crossing choppy waters to play football, something he believes owes much to his independence since moving away from home at the tender age of 17.
To get from Torpoint, the small Cornish town where he grew up, to Plymouth, where his football education took off, Stephens would have to jump on the ferry.
Even now, when he goes back to visit friends and family, he finds himself at the mercy of the temperamental vessels.
“It’s not so bad for me, because I only have to get it once or twice when I go back, but if you’re using it every day there’s always something wrong with them,” he chuckles.
“There’s supposed to be three, but I’d probably say for ten months of the year there is only two on – one is always broken and being sent away to be fixed.
“All my friends and family are always complaining about the ferries!”
jack stephensi think that gives you a good grounding, having to go through little things like that, rather than relying on other people and having everything given to you.
Stephens was already playing league football by the time he left Argyle, having made six appearances for his local club, all under former England midfielder Peter Reid.
But his less than glamorous commute to work ensured his feet remained firmly on the ground.
“I still wasn’t driving – I used to walk down to the ferry, which was about ten minutes from my house, and get the ferry across to Plymouth,” he said.
“Sometimes my mate would pick me up, if he was feeling nice enough, but sometimes he’d make me walk!
“On the way home, I’d try to get a lift, but again, sometimes I’d have to walk back, which was a bit of a nightmare.
“I think that gives you a good grounding, having to go through little things like that, rather than relying on other people and having everything given to you. It was good fun.”
This is just a small snippet of the full eight-page interview, in which Stephens opens up about:
- Adapting to his new life in Southampton alone at the age of 17
- Having to stop himself from visiting home too often to help him settle
- What it’s like when he does go back to Torpoint
- The times in his teenage years when he considered giving up on his dream
- The temptations he may have faced if he hadn’t left home so early in his career
- His struggles when he hasn’t been picked to play
- Why he’s so determined to nail down his place in the Saints backline
- How his expectations have changed, seven years on from joining the club
You can pick up your copy of SAINTS in person at St Mary’s on matchdays, or online.