James Coppinger talks through his special free kick that earned Doncaster Rovers a draw with Hull City

“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was in.”

By Liam Hoden
Sunday, 21st February 2021, 10:00 am

James Coppinger shared the same confidence as everyone else associated with Doncaster Rovers as he watched his free kick sail over the wall and nestle in the top corner to secure a point against Hull City.

It was the sort of brilliance under tremendous pressure that has been a trademark for the 40-year-old over his 17 seasons with the club.

But there was the weight of occasion on his shoulders, on the day Rovers had worn the charity third kit designed by the man himself to mark his incredible tenure at the club, while also needing to secure a good result against a promotion rival.

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James Coppinger celebrates after scoring his late free kick against Hull City in the kit he designed to mark his 17 years with Rovers. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

But, as Coppinger revealed afterwards, the scenario had already played out in his head.

“I saw it last night,” he said. “I saw that exact moment when I was in bed, visualising today.

“I’ve had a lot of moments like this at this club. I wouldn’t say there’s pressure on me but my 500th game, and my 501st game here when I scored on both occasions, I just feel like I enjoy that sort of moment.

“I knew there was an opportunity that I’d be on the bench and be a part of it and I almost visualised that moment.

“The free kick came about and it all transpired, I stood in front of it and I relived that last night.

“It’s not the first time that’s happened, I’ve done it a few times, Brentford, and it was almost surreal.

“I’ve heard a lot of sportspeople talk about it, visualisation, and when it happened and I saw it go over the ball, I knew it was in.”

Getting to the point of striking the ball was not quite as smooth. It involved a conversation and some negotiation with new team mate John Bostock, who graciously stepped aside in the end.

“I can’t remember the last time I took a free kick,” Coppinger said.

“I’ve been out injured for eight weeks and I haven’t struck a ball like that.

“That’s why I’m talking about that I knew that was going to happen and that feeling when John said ‘do you want it?’

“I said run over it, he said do you want me to run to it and I said no, go over it.

“And as soon as he ran over it... I can feel it now.

“As I’m approaching the ball, my head stays on the ball and as soon as I hit it, I knew it was in.

“To have that feeling, you can see in my face running off, I didn’t know what to do or where to go, no fans, no one to run to and I managed to get to Ellery.

“It’s so good.

“Getting emotional there, but my career is coming to an end and to have those moments, and a moment like that at the end of my career.

“It might not be end because we’re in a really good position, we’ve got a really good squad so hopefully that won’t be the end but if it is it’s a nice one.”

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