Doncaster Rovers: Body fat talk spurred James Coppinger on to feel 21 again

James Coppinger
James Coppinger

They were words that James Coppinger says were not nice to hear but they have spurred on the Doncaster Rovers veteran this season.

During a discussion with the club’s sport science team during pre-season, the 37-year-old’s body fat levels were mentioned.

For a player that has long prided himself on his fitness and conditioning, it was not what he wanted to hear.

But with motivation to continue to deliver the high levels of performance he has throughout his 14 years at Rovers, it sparked a dietary revolution for Coppinger.

A few months on, he remains one of the club’s top performers and insists he feels as fit, if not fitter, than he did at the start of his career with Rovers, who host Blackpool on Tuesday night.

“I had a conversation with the sports scientist and Rob [Lee, fitness coach] which wasn't nice in terms of where I was body fat wise,” Coppinger said.

“I put a lot of work in and sacrifice. It's paying off and I'm feeling really good.

“I just feel fitter than I did last year.

“I've worked on my diet, I've dropped body fat and I feel like I did when I was 21 in terms of my body.

“I feel so much quicker and fitter.

“We're playing in a team that presses so high, and has to be fit.

“I played 96 minutes against Barnsley the other day and in the last minute I’m in the box trying to score the winner.

“I think that's a testament to how I've looked after myself over the last three months.”

At 37 – 38 in January – Coppinger has reach a stage where he expects a question regarding his future in the game in every interview.

His answer in recent months has been simple. He is enjoying life as a player and if that ever changes, he knows it will be time to call it a day.

He said: “It helps with the players being so hungry and so together, doing really well.

“If I wasn't involved in a team or squad that was giving me that then I would have finished or gone somewhere else.

“The same with the manager and the staff and everyone associated with the club.

“It's such a good place to be and it's a testament to everybody.

“For me personally, playing at 37 and travelling three and a half hours here and back every day, it's something I really enjoy doing and if I didn't then I wouldn't be here.”