BILLERICAY Town’s Jacob Cook is eager to enjoy a successful 2020 having stepped away from the game and become an estate agent less than three years ago.

Cook was released by Premier League side Watford in May 2017 and, having seen his hopes of becoming a professional footballer with the Hornets go up in flames, the midfielder fell out of love with the game.

And the 21-year-old admits it proved to be a difficult period in his life.

“Three years ago, I got released by Watford and quit football,” said Cook.

“It hurt and I was not mentally tough when I was younger.

“I thought I was going to make it as a footballer, but getting released was a real low blow and it made me fall out of love with the game.

“Instead, I started working as an estate agent and I didn’t think there was any way back for me.”

However, Cook returned to the football pitch after building a close relationship with former Watford striker Gifton Noel-Williams, who is now the assistant manager at Billericay.

Cook joined Codicote, where Noel-Williams had a brief spell in charge in 2017, before going onto impress at Kings Langley.

The combative midfielder’s fine form earned him a move to Wealdstone during the summer but, following a loan spell with Hayes & Yeading United, Cook joined Billericay in November.

And Cook is pleased to have linked up with Noel-Williams once again.

“I knew Gifton when he was at Watford and I went to some of his sessions at Codicote,” admitted Cook.

“He got me back into the game and made me realised that football was my first love and it always will be.

“Being out of the game was a difficult time for me, but it’s great now.

“Non-league is proper men’s football and it’s different from playing in an academy.

“I have not had the best couple of years, but Billericay is a great club and all of the people behind the scenes are fantastic.

“They put their arm around you and want you to succeed.”

Billericay will host his former side Wealdstone in a National League South clash tonight.

Wealdstone, who are at the division’s summit, are managed by ex-Billericay boss Dean Brennan and boast numerous familiar faces in their squad.

Jamie O’Hara’s Billericay, meanwhile, are just two points ahead of second-from-bottom St Albans City and Cook admits Town’s recent postponements have been particularly frustrating.

“You are at your best when you have rhythm, so it’s difficult when games are postponed,” added Cook.

“We have set high standards at this club and we want to get more out of each other.

“I am loving it at Billericay and I will give me all in every single game I am involved in.”