Doncaster Rovers defeat made retirement easier for James Coppinger
It might not have been the perfect note on which to bow out but James Coppinger admitted that Doncaster Rovers’ defeat to Peterborough United made his retirement easier to accept.
Coppinger made his 695th and final appearance for Rovers in Sunday’s 4-1 loss and said afterwards that he was comfortable with his decision.
“I’m ready to retire, massively,” he said.
“The result helps. If we’d have won and I’d done really well it’d have been even harder to walk off the pitch.
“The season has been really difficult for more than one reason.
“To come off and get the ovation, to have the guard of honour before the game, again with the timing, it seems perfect.
“There’s no fans in which makes it harder but I’m 100 per cent ready to retire and I’m really looking forward to what’s next.”
Coppinger said the lessons of a 23-year professional career prepared him to not expect a fairytale ending, despite producing some magic moments throughout his time in the game.
He almost added another to his collection when he whipped a free kick onto the crossbar in the second half on Sunday.“It’s frustrating and it’s football,” he said. “I’ve had 695 appearances for this club and I wouldn’t expect anything less.
“It’s part and parcel of being a professional footballer.
“I’ve said it a lot that it’s about the disappointments as much as the highs.
“Having to come back from such a disappointing first half performance, I thought in the second half we were excellent.”
Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the Keepmoat to welcome Coppinger on the day and to give him a send-off too, with the 40-year-old spending more than an hour afterwards meeting fans and taking pictures.
“The fans have been unbelievable and it’s so disappointing that they’re not in the ground,” he said.
“The messages that I’ve had have been unbelievable.
“It means everything.
“It’s been my life for 17 years and it means so much to me.
“It’s hard because I’ve been doing this since I left school at 16. I put so much into and the emotion, you try not to think about it.
“I feel for them because I’ve been unable to have them in for me.”