'I spoke to Grant and said I was sorry - but I wasn't sorry' - James Coppinger on continuing to prove the doubters wrong after his latest heroics for Doncaster Rovers
James Coppinger has been proving people wrong for a long time now - and it continued with his heroics for Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
He has spoken for the last half a decade of a need to prove he is far from finished, and his determination to do so has been a major motivating factor as he has continued through the later stages of his career.
And moments before he took to the pitch and curled in a last gasp free kick to earn a hugely valuable point against promotion rivals Hull City, he was still facing the doubters.
“I was warming up and one of their lads was giving me some stick, a Hull player, I don’t know what he’s called,” Coppinger said.
“He was saying are you the one who designed the crap kit and crap boots? You’re too old for them aren’t you?
“Football is football, and it is what it is. To him it was a joke and a bit of banter.”
Not for the first time in his career, Coppinger got the last laugh.
Wearing the kit he himself designed to mark his 17th and final season with Rovers, along with matching boots gifted to him by his team mates, he scored a wonderful free kick 12 minutes into time added on to secure a much deserved share of the spoils for the side.
And it happened to come against another man whose doubts he had previously had to answer - former Rovers boss Grant McCann.
“Grant came in, took the captaincy off me and said I wouldn’t play as many minutes,” Coppinger said. “I played 54 games that season.
“I just spoke to him down there [after the game]. I said sorry - but I wasn’t sorry.
“He’s absolutely top man and I get on really well with him and respect him as a man and a manager and what he’s doing at Hull but football is football.
“When he said that, and got me in his office, I said I’m not having that. I’m going to prove you wrong and offer more than what you think.”
The 40-year-old has made no secret that he feels he is facing a similar task under current boss Darren Moore, having seen his match minutes decline in his final season.
“It’s the same with Darren,” he said. “Although I’ve not had the minutes and I’ve had this injury, I still want to keep pushing and pushing and try to play as many games and help the team as much as I can.
“I’ve said that it’s disappointing and frustrating that I’m not playing as many minutes because I genuinely feel really good.
“But I get that. I’m 40 and the manager has come in and wants to bring his own players in, he wants to do it his way, and I get that.
“I’ve had that since I turned 34, 35.”
It remains to be seen how many further opportunities Coppinger will have to prove the doubters wrong before he hangs up his boots at the end of the season.