James Coppinger: ‘I want to still be playing when I’m 40’

James Coppinger
James Coppinger

James Coppinger says he still wants to be playing when he is 40.

Coppinger - who turned 34 last month - insists he feels fitter and stronger now than he ever has done.

Doncaster’s longest serving player has missed the last four games with an ankle injury but could return to the squad against Port Vale this weekend.

Currently on 440 Rovers appearances, Coppinger is within touching distance of surpassing Colin Douglas’ club record of 468.

But the Guisborough born winger sees no reason to stop there - and he has no plans of hanging up his boots just yet.

“Without a doubt,” replied Coppinger, when asked if he planned to continue playing into his forties.

“I feel as fit and as strong as I ever felt.

“I know I keep saying that and people must think I’m trying to get another contract!

“But I genuinely do, and it’s down to hard work.

“Every morning I’ll do a lot of stretching and work with the physio to make sure I’m not feeling stiff and recover really well.

“I just want to play as long as I can. I love playing football.”

Evergreen Coppinger, who made one Premier League appearance for Newcastle United as a youngster, says he has developed “massively” both physically and mentally since he joined Rovers from Exeter in 2004.

“Technically I don’t think I’ve developed a great deal,” he said.

“I think I’ve always been technically good. That was never a downfall of mine.

“But mentally there is no comparison between the person that signed and the one that is sat here now.

“Physically, I didn’t really develop until I was 25, 26.

“I was at Newcastle and I found it hard physically to last through games and strength-wise.

“Physically and mentally my development has been absolutely massive.

“Getting over disappointment is one of the biggest things in football because you can go through that every day - if you’re injured, if you miss a chance.

“It’s all about how you deal with that, and it’s something I’ve managed to deal with really well over the last eight or nine years.”

n Tickets for Coppinger’s ‘Rovers Legends’ game go on sale tomorrow at www.jamescoppinger.co.uk.