Burnley's Jack Cork admits to influencing Jay Rodriguez's record move to Southampton

Jack Cork, Jay Rodriguez and Wade Elliott
Jack Cork, Jay Rodriguez and Wade Elliott

Burnley midfielder Jack Cork always sensed that there was something special about team-mate Jay Rodriguez.

So much so that his recommendation to former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins led to the striker becoming a record signing for the Saints in the summer of 2012.

The pair played together for the Clarets during the 2010/11 campaign in the Championship, a time when the club made a change at the top as Eddie Howe replaced Brian Laws.

Cork made his move down to the South Coast that summer - his first permanent switch from Chelsea - while Rodriguez remained at Turf Moor for another season.

However, having scored 36 goals in two seasons for Burnley, Rodriguez joined Cork at St Mary's after Southampton had secured promotion to the Premier League.

"Jay is someone that I've known for a long time, since I was first here at Burnley," said Cork. "When I first came 10 years ago he was just a young lad coming through, but you could see that he had something special about him.

"As soon as they put him in in the Championship he was unbelievable. He can do everything; he can carry the ball, he can run behind, he can jump, he can hold it, he can shoot from 30 yards, he can score from two yards.

"He's just a very good all-round player. I remember when I was at Southampton, when I moved down there, I said if there's one player you want to sign then you've got to try and sign Jay Rodriguez."

The 30-year-old added: "In the end they managed to sign him in the first season after we were promoted.

"I remember him (Nigel Adkins) talking to me about Burnley and asking me who I liked there.

"Jay was somebody who I thought was a great player who could do well. Eventually he signed after we got promoted to the Premier League.

"He's somebody who is really good to have around, he's a really good guy and a good friend. He's a person that suits the football club."

Cork, who played 153 times for Southampton over two spells, was part of a period of experimentation at SO14.

There was plenty of chopping and changing within the squad; players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana departed while the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Gaston Ramirez, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane were recruited.

And there was change on the management front as Adkins, Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman all had spells at the helm during Cork's tenure.

He said: "It was a strange club to be at because every season they'd sell their best players and you'd think 'oh no, here we go again!' Then they'd sign four or five players that were better or just as good as before.

"It was strange. We got rid of Rickie [Lambert] and they signed Graziano [Pelle], we got rid of Adam [Lallana] and we signed Sadio [Mane], we had Clyne, Shaw, Chambers, Ward-Prowse, it was a really good period of bringing people in. It was just a really good time to be a part of.

"Even with the managers; they got rid of Adkins and signed Pochettino and there was Koeman as well. Everything just kept improving.

"We qualified for the Europa League twice, there were three or four top half finishes, it just seemed like nothing could go wrong. It was crazy."

If selected to face his former club, Cork will bring up his 150th appearance for the Clarets, which includes 106 starts in the Premier League.

"It's been great," he said. "I came here 10 years ago now as a 20-year-old boy and I just wanted to get some games in on loan.

"I followed that up with a good season in the Championship. You never know what's going to happen in football, I thought my time here had probably finished, but it's great to come back after that period with three successful years so far.

"It's been a great club, a great place to work with good people and I couldn't speak highly enough of it."