Things were going pretty swimmingly for George Cox when he reported back for pre-season at Brighton & Hove Albion last summer.
The 20-year-old had been an ever-present and helped the Seagulls Under-23s to promotion to PL2 a few months earlier, and his performances had caught the attention of Brighton boss Chris Hughton.
The left-sided player was training with the first team, and was turning his thoughts towards getting himself out on loan to a Football League club to experience competitive men’s football.
His career was progressing on an upward curve - but then he was hit with a serious shock.
I’ll let Cox, who this week signed on loan at the Cobblers until the end of the season, take up the story.
“I had a heart procedure at the start of the season, which was obviously not what I wanted,” he revealed. “It is part of it all really, and it makes you a stronger person.
“It was weird, because I was with the first team training for a week, and it was looking positive, and the I had an ECG heart scan.
“The beat was inconsistent, so I am now proper nervous.
“They told me I needed to come back and have another scan that same day, so I went back and had an ultrasound scan to see inside.
“That was so they could see any real problems, but they said ‘no, it’s clear you can go out and train’.
“So I went out and trained, and then next day I had a 24-hour ECG, and they came back straight away and said ‘you need to see a consultant’.
“The consultant explained to me that I had an abnormal heartbeat, and that it was 16,000 extra beats, which is significant.
“From there it was pretty quick, and they were really good with it, but it’s not what you want to hear!”
So what was Cox thinking at the time? Well, all was okay - until one of the surgeons who would be operating on him opened his mouth!
“All sorts of thoughts go through your head, and I was all okay and then I had a meeting with the two surgeons,” recalled Cox.
“I had one talk to me the day before the operation, and he cleared my mind, and then the second one said ‘there is a chance you could die from this’. “I was then like ‘mate, really?!’
“That was about 10 minutes before the op and all sorts of things were crossing my mind!”
Thankfully, Cox needn’t have worried as it turned out the operation was a success.
“Afterwards it was all good, the surgeons were really happy and it all seems to be okay now,” said Cox.
“I had an exercise test after six weeks and was given clearance, and I have also had a few scans in between as well, and they have shown everything’s fine.”
Cox was back training before the end of August, and played his first U23 for the Seagulls game in September.
He has played regularly since, and says he is now delighted to get the chance to join the Cobblers on loan.
And Cox, who is set to be in the squad for Saturday's Sky Bet League Two clash with Carlisle United, is hoping he can show what he is all about while at the PTS Academy Stadium.
“It is really hard missing pre-season, as you have all of these boys ahead of you fitness wise,” he said.
“So it was difficult and it is a slow process getting back to normal, but I feel that I am back to my best now and am ready to go.”