James Coppinger admits watching Bournemouth win promotion to the Premier League left him thinking ‘that could have been us’.
The 34-year-old winger - one of only three survivors of the Sean O’Driscoll era in the current squad - claims Doncaster could have reached the promised land of the Premier League with more investment at the right time.
Rovers finished 12th in the Championship in 2010, their second season at that level following promotion in 2008.
They looked well-placed for a play-off push the following season before tailing off badly.
Bournemouth, under Eddie Howe, defied many a pundit by maintaining their promotion push and earning a lucrative spot in the Premier League.
And Coppinger admits that watching one of the stories of last season unfold brought Rovers’ brush with the top end of the Championship right back to him.
“I watched the Bournemouth game [when they went up] and it sort of angered and frustrated me because that’s where I want to be,” he said.
“As a footballer you should watch things like that and be motivated and inspired by players that have done so well.
“You think to yourself ‘why isn’t that us? That should be us.’
“Things are out of my control in terms of investors,” he added.
“But I think after the first season we went up we sold a lot of good players and a lot of good players left the club [Richie Wellens and Matt Mills were sold in 2009].
“Bournemouth and Doncaster aren’t world’s apart in terms of stature of club. I think they’ve only spent five seasons in the whole of their history in the Championship,
“I think if we’d invested and brought in the right players it could definitely have been us.
“So there’s a little bit of frustration and a little bit of disappointment looking back, but it’s something that’s out of my control.”
Coppinger says Bournemouth’s remarkable rise up the leagues is proof that smaller clubs can reach the top.
“You can put money into a football club but that doesn’t buy success,” said Coppinger.
“Eddie Howe has been tremendous. You speak to players and listen to their players talk and everyone speaks very highly about him. They hold him in high regard and basically hold him responsible for where they are, so it just shows.”