- Name: Jack Stephens
- Age: 23 (27 January 1994)
- Club: Southampton
- Position: Defender
Who is jack stephens?
The current Southampton defender was first introduced to the football scene when he joined Plymouth Argyle at the age of 11 in 2005, the local professional team to where he lived in Torpoint. He stayed at the now League One side until 2011, where he made 5 first-team appearances. But in order to progress in his career, he decided to make the move down south to St Mary’s in a £150,000 deal when he was only 17 years-old.
When Stephens joined Southampton, he was straight away placed in the club’s development squad, where many of the game’s most successful players have been, including Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. The young defender impressed the coaches and subsequently earned his first first-team appearance in January 2012, coming on as a substitute in Southampton’s 2-1 FA cup win against Coventry as well as being promoted into the first-team set-up that summer ahead of their rise back into the Premier League.
Stephens has also endured 3 separate loan spells since 2014. He started at Swindon Town, then went to Championship side Middlesbrough, and for the 2015/16 season he went to the team he made his Southampton debut against, Coventry City, in order to prove he was ready for the Premier League.
What has he achieved so far?
At the age of 23, Stephens has already made a good impression for club and country. The Englishman earned his first call-up for the under-18 squad back in 2012 and has since been capped at the Under 19, Under 20 and Under 21 levels.
The big defender was also part of the England squad that won the Toulon tournament in 2016, which was their first victory in the competition for 22 years.
With Southampton still strong in the Premier League to this day, Stephens had a break-through season last time out, making 17 appearances for the 2016/17 season where the South-coast side finished 8th. After impressing hugely during last season, the 23-year-old was awarded a large, new five-year contract which he signed in July ahead of the new season.
When Southampton’s vice chairman of football Les Reed was asked about Jack Stephens he added: “His progression, and the level of his performances, was one of the real highlights of last season, and we have been delighted with his development ever since he joined the club.”
As Southampton’s new season commenced on Saturday, the new no.5 was Jack Stephens and he contributed towards the Saints’ clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Swansea. With Virgil Van Dijk looking certain for a move away from St Mary’s, Stephens will be determined to prove he is good enough to stay a part of Southampton’s defence for years to come.
What are his strengths?
Versatility: When he started his football career with Plymouth, Stephens was originally a right-back due to his pace and power. Being 6’1″, the big defender was a tricky prospect at right-back as he could bomb up and down the wing.
However, now he has been converted into a centre-back and the strong Englishman is well suited to the role. Stephens reads the play very well and for a centre-back, he has pace that gives him an advantage against the faster forwards in the Premier League.
Ball-playing defender: Stephens is very comfortable on the ball and the modern day centre-back is required to be able to have vision and pass the ball around, instead of the old style of hoofing the ball as far as you can!
Does he have any weaknesses?
Lack of experience: At the age of 23, Stephens isn’t the youngest player anymore and for his age, there are now younger players with more experience than the defender. Therefore, the more he plays the better and Stephens is showing Southampton that he is a very capable defender and the experience will come to him throughout the next seasons.
What does the future bring for Jack stephens?
Ultimately, Southampton will be the best club for Jack Stephens to progress as a player given their huge success with youngsters in the past, great examples being Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott.
Stephens is proving to be the biggest youngster at the club right now and with him bagging a certain place in the first-team under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino, the future looks bright for Jack Stephens.