Cook, who has announced his impending international retirement after this week’s Oval Test, was Gooch’s protege who went on to far surpass even his revered mentor’s record run-making achievements.
Four-time Ashes-winner Cook passed Gooch’s historical high of 8,900 Test runs just before regaining the urn as England captain four years ago, on the way to the 12,000-plus he has racked up in his 12-year, 160-match career.
For almost the duration, since Cook first moved on to the playing staff at their county Essex, Gooch has been a guiding force in his fellow opener’s unmatched career.
Gooch said: “Alastair has been the rock of England’s batting for the last 12 years since he made his debut – and while we are all sad to see him retire, we must rejoice in what he has done for our country.
“He is a genuine legend of English cricket.
“He is a legend not only because of his performances, but because of his attitude, his sacrifices, the way he has carried himself and the example he has set.
“Alastair is a perfect role model and is the image of the game we want to project. He is a great ambassador for his sport; he is a great person as well as a great cricketer.”
Gooch was speaking in his role as Professional Cricketers’ Association president.
In the tribute statement, the 65-year-old added: “His record is unsurpassed in terms of runs and the commitment he has showed for every team he has played for, and has been a beacon for our sport as a person and as a cricketer.
“He has been his own man all the way through.
“He has his own views and he knows what he wants to achieve and what he wants to get – and he has pursued that all the way through his career.”
Gooch was impressed by Cook from the outset.
He said: “It was evident from the very first time I met him when he came to Essex that he was a smart lad – and he knew how he could play, he knew how he could manage his game, even at a young age.
“Throughout his career, he has developed his game to improve, and the results are there for all to see.
“To achieve what he has in playing 160 Test Matches, scoring over 12,000 runs and 32 centuries is an incredibly special achievement from a special person.
“It all stems from being strong of mind, being committed to hard work on his game and focusing on what’s in front of him.
“He has accepted every challenge and has achieved everything he wanted to achieve – so we have to be sad that he will no longer be representing our country, but we must rejoice in the fact he has been a rock for us for 12 years.”
Gooch points out that graft, as well as ability, is necessary to succeed at the highest level.
He said: “To be a successful sportsman it is not just about the skills or talent – it is about hard work, commitment and desire.
“All of those parts complete the make-up of you as a person and help you be successful, and he has been determined … stubborn sometimes but always somebody you can depend on, and always the first name on the team sheet.”
Cook has indicated he intends to play on for his county next summer, and Gooch said: “For Essex it is a dream come true.
“Knowing Alastair like I do, he will give the same commitment as he did for England.
“He has decided he has run his race at international level, and I can understand that as he has done it for 12 years.”
Chasing 245 to win, India fell to a 60-run defeat at the Ageas Bowl as England clinched the five-match series 3-1 with a match to spare. It was once again a case of so near, and yet so far for the visitors who suffered a narrow 1-2 defeat to South Africa on their previous overseas tour.
Speaking after the Southampton defeat, Kohli stressed on the importance of capitalising on advantageous positions such as the first innings where India were well placed to take a commanding lead.
“We can look at the scoreboard and say we were only 30 or 50 runs away, but we have to recognise that when we are in the midst of a situation, and not later. We know that we have played good cricket but we cannot say again and again ourselves that we have competed,” Kohli said.
“When you come so close, there is an art of crossing the line as well, which we will have to learn. We have the ability, which is why we are getting close to a result. But when a pressure situation comes, how we react to it, is something we have to work on a bit,” he added.
It was once again a poor start to the series which proved costly for Kohli’s men. In South Africa, they went down 0-2 before bouncing back with a win in the final Test and in England, they suffered losses at Edgbaston and Lord’s before notching up a win at Trent Bridge.
The India skipper believes his side need to start overseas series much better if they are to have a better chance of wins.
“Look we’ve spoken about the fact that even during the match when we’re in a driving position, we should be able to capitalise on it and not let the opposition come in, and fight back again and again. We can take a leaf out of that. Nottingham we did that, for three days we were relentless and on top,” the 29-year-old explained.
“So we need to think about how to start a series like that as well. As a group, we need to be more relentless when we start a series and a bit more expressive and fearless at the beginning of a series,” he added.
The two sides will lock horns now in the fifth and final Test which gets underway at The Oval on September 7.
After a Test match for the ages in Southampton, we look back at some of the key numbers so far in the series.
Most runs in the series – Virat Kohli
Jos Buttler (260), Sam Curran (251), Cheteshwar Pujara (241) and Ajinkya Rahane (220) make up the top five.
Most wickets in the series – James Anderson
Matches – 4
Innings – 8
Wickets – 19
Average – 17.68
Economy – 2.39
Overs Bowled – 140.1
Maidens – 38
Runs conceded – 336
Best – 5-20
Indian paceman Ishant Sharma (15) is second while Stuart Broad and Mohammed Shami are tied on 14, with Jasprit Bumrah the fifth-most productive bowler on 11 scalps.
Anderson is now just four wickets shy of levelling Australian great Glenn McGrath’s haul of 563 scalps.
Most catches – KL Rahul and Alastair Cook (tied with 11 each)
The Indian opener’s catches have come during just seven India innings, as opposed to Cook’s eight occasions in the field. KL Rahul snaffled a series-high four during the tourists’ emphatic third Test win at Trent Bridge.
Highest Partnership in the Series – Sixth-wicket stand of 189 between Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes at Lord’s.
Highest Team Total – England: 396-7d, off 88.1 overs in second innings of second match at Lord’s.
Most fours – Virat Kohli (61)
Most sixes – Sam Curran (4, from just five innings)
Highest strike-rate in an innings – Jos Buttler 121.87 (39 off 32 balls, including three 4s and two 6s)
Highest Test aggregate of runs – Trent Bridge (1,159 runs scored between the sides).
Total amount of wickets to have fallen – 144: 40 at Birmingham; 27 at Lord’s; 37 at Nottingham and 40 during the Southampton Test.
Most extras conceded in an innings – 34, forming England’s first innings total of 246 at Southampton (B: 23; lb; 9, nb: 2).