Doncaster Rovers: 'There are times when I don't know if I can do it any more' - James Coppinger on the mental battle of continuing his playing career

He may seem strong willed and firm of mind but even James Coppinger needs to give himself a good talking to at times.

By Liam Hoden
Sunday, 09 June, 2019, 08:00
James Coppinger

The Doncaster Rovers veteran recently extended his stay at the club into a 16th year after another campaign of confounding expectations.

Unlike in previous campaigns, Coppinger never publicly hinted that he was ready to hang up his boots.

The odd gentle reminder in his own mind however was enough to convince him that pressing on with his phenomenal playing career was worth doing.

"I think I go through ups and downs in terms of where I am and what I want to do," he told the Free Press.

"There are times when I'm travelling and I do think I don't know if I can do this any more.

"But I genuinely feel like the group we've got, we're a close group and there are a lot of young lads in there that I get on really well with.

"I feel like I've got a responsibility to them as much as myself.

"You're a long time retired and people keep saying that to me.

"So as much as sometimes you feel like you don't want to go on it's a case of 'get a grip of yourself, you're in a fantastic position, you're doing well, you're still playing all these games and there's loads of players having to stop playing because they're injured.

"For me personally, I have a strong family and a strong group of friends that have supported me, not just over this season but over the last three or four seasons."

The mental approach to the game has become increasingly important to Coppinger as his career has progressed.

His introduction to motivational speaker Terry Gormley helped him change his mentality and outlook. He credits his relationship with Gormley with his longevity in the game.

But he says it requires continual work.

"I think I'm always working on that," Coppinger said.

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"It's an on-going process. You don't just see a psychologist and it's all sorted. It's every week, every month, every six months, every year - constantly speaking to people that can help you.

"Reading books, learning from different people, learning from successful people and how they think and do things.

"It's about trying to mirror that and that's what I have done.

"I enjoy it. I enjoy improving as a person, getting better and learning.

"It's probably a testament to why I'm still playing really.

"Yeah, definitely."

Something Coppinger has repeatedly reiterated throughout the season is the part the Rovers squad has played in his desire to play on.

He acknowledges the togetherness and collective determination within the group as kept his own desire for success alive.

"I need to feel part of a group that wants to be successful," he said.

"If I wasn't and I didn't feel that then I really don't think that I would still be playing.

"The amount of work that goes into the team, the staff and everyone at the club - there's a real good feel about the place.

"The involvement with the community is unbelievable.

"That makes me feel part of something special.

"Whether you're 38 or 18, that's what you want. In any job, not just football.

"If that was not the case I wouldn't be playing."