Doncaster Rovers: Sean O’Driscoll writes glowing tribute to James Coppinger

James Coppinger and Sean O'Driscoll
James Coppinger and Sean O'Driscoll

You just can’t coach it.

That is Sean O’Driscoll’s verdict on James Coppinger’s inherent qualities as both a man and a footballer.

Coppinger, 34, is currently celebrating his testimonial year at Doncaster and will next season embark on his 12th campaign as a Rovers player.

Former Doncaster boss O’Driscoll returned to the Keepmoat Stadium last month for Coppinger’s ‘Legends’ game and took the opportunity to pen a glowing reference for the Guisborough born winger - stating his qualities as a ‘team player’ will stand him in good stead for life after football.

“When Richard [O’Kelly] and I joined the club in 2006 we always knew that Copps was a talented footballer,” wrote O’Driscoll.

“But talent in football has to be allied with all those things that cost nothing yet that are difficult to do week in, week out.

“And it is only when you get to work with someone day in day out that you get a true reflection of that player’s character, commitment, attitude and intelligence.

“James possesses all of these attributes, which is why he was such a pivotal figure during the team’s success and identity during that period and after.

“Some players need to be told, some players need to be shown, but the best players understand and are then prepared to take responsibility on and off the pitch.

“James was never complacent, always challenging the status quo, which as a coach and manager I found refreshing and honest.

“Ask most supporters for their stand out memory of James during this period and you would probably get the same answer - his outstanding performance and hat trick in the play off semi-final against Southend.

“Players will always get remembered for those stand out moments; that important goal, the defence splitting pass, the match winning save, the last ditch tackle.

“But when these memories fade the character of the person and how they have affected and enthused the players around them will be their real legacy.

“You can’t coach this, you can only identify, nurture and support it.

“James is one of those players blessed with an inherent natural ability but his true value is as a team member. Those qualities will stand him in great stead when eventually he embarks on the next chapter of his life after football.

“But until that time, Copps will rightly be remembered for being a fantastic, entertaining player and a loyal servant to the football club.”