James Ward-Prowse says he is embarking on the 2020/21 season at Southampton as excited as he has been in years, as he looks to the future after signing a new five-year contract with the club.
The midfielder, who is coming off the back of a standout campaign in which he played every minute of Premier League action for the team, kicked off pre-season by putting pen to paper on the new deal, which would take his association with Saints past the 20-year mark, having joined the Academy as an eight-year-old.
james ward-prowseit's the most excited i've been as a southampton player for a few years now.
on the 2020/21 season
Ward-Prowse will also head into the new season as captain, having been handed the armband in the latter stages of it, and, with the team enjoying such an impressive conclusion to 2019/20, he is full of optimism for what lies ahead.
"I think it's the most excited that I've been as a Southampton player for a few years now, not just because of the captaincy and how things are going, but from a team perspective and for the club,” he said.
“We're part of a team that's developing all the time, in all different areas, and for a player that's really exciting. I think we came away from last season a little bit gutted that it ended, because we were in a real good run of form and momentum.
“But I think everybody would be equally excited to get back to it and to carry on from where we left off last season, and to be with a manager who's had a real good impact on the club. He's a great manager to play under, and I'm sure everybody will be looking to improve in all areas again.”
For Ward-Prowse, taking on the captaincy also provides him with a particular sense of pride heading into the new season, given the meaning the club has for him.
"It's a huge honour,” he said. “When I started out here it was just with the goal to play for the first-team and to be a professional footballer, then I think coming up through the Academy I captained various age groups and it began to come into my mind that it was something that I wanted.
“I knew it wasn't something that was going to come my way straight away, and I think admittedly at times there have been moments when I've doubted whether it will ever actually happen, but it's presented itself to me now, it's come my way, and I want to make sure I'm the best captain for this football club I can be and to make sure I give as much as I can back to everybody there and to try to lead by example.
"If it came my way a couple of years ago I wouldn't have maybe felt ready, so I'm grateful for the way that it's come about. I certainly feel a lot more mature in myself and, having played under numerous captains, I've learned a lot of good things and bad things about what the role requires.
“It's not just the on-the-field stuff, there's a lot of off-the-field things that require your attention as well. I've had a real good learning experience up until now and I feel as though I'm in a position to make use of those experiences and that's something I'm really craving is that responsibility on and off the pitch, and hopefully I can be the best leader I can.”