TEAM MATES: James Coppinger picks his stand out Doncaster Rovers colleagues from the last 16 years

When you look to launch a brand new series asking Doncaster Rovers stars past and present for their stand-out team mates over the years, who better kick off with than James Coppinger?

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Sunday, 5th April 2020, 2:10 pm

His 16 years at the club have covered the incredible rise to the Championship, thriving in the second tier, the incredible run to promotion in 2013 and the highs and lows since.

We spoke to Rovers’ all time record appearance maker and asked him to pick out his top three team mates from the best part of two decades.

RICHIE WELLENS

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James Coppinger

“Richie springs to mind straight away for me.

“He’s the player that I enjoyed playing with the most. We had a lot in common, we were a similar age and we both had a real love for football and play it in the same way.

“When he first came to the club I was absolutely over the moon and the relationship we built over that time was the best I’ve had at Doncaster.

“The way he picked me out when we played and visa versa - it was always a pleasure to play with him.

James Coppinger celebrates a goal with Richie Wellens

“Always, when I was out on the pitch, I knew he would demand from me and you knew you wouldn’t get away with slacking or not being at it because Richie demanded.

“He was one of the biggest moaners I’ve ever come across but in the right way.

“For me, it was no surprise when he went to Leicester and got player of the season for two seasons running.

“He was definitely one of the best I’ve played with.

Neil Sullivan in action for Doncaster Rovers.

“I’m not surprised either with the success he’s having at Swindon as manager either.

“His love for the sport doesn’t just run as a player, it runs into him as a manager too. And to a dad too. His two lads are doing really well.

“You can just see his appetite for the game, his willingness to learn.

“I think the biggest thing for me with Richie that stands out is he doesn’t care what people think. He does it his way, he cracks on.

Billy Sharp fires on goal for Rovers

“He managed Oldham for a short period of time and used that as a learning curve. I spoke to him a lot over that period and I still speak to him now he’s at Swindon.

“He’s doing an amazing job and I think he’ll be one of those people who will be really disappointed if we don’t see the season out because they’ve done an amazing job and deserve to go up.”

BILLY SHARP

“Obviously Billy. He again has a real enthusiasm for the sport and an enthusiasm for scoring goals.

“When he came to the club, it was just what we needed at the right time

“He’s somebody who demanded from you and demanded that you be at it and supplied him with crosses.

“That is what you want from a striker. You want somebody who is there, in positions to score goals. Whenever you put a ball in, you knew Billy Sharp wasn’t too far away from it.

“The amount of times I put the ball in and he put it in the back of the net, it’d take me all day to go through them all.

“But it was more, like with Richie, his love for football that I clung onto.

“I’m still playing at 39 and he’s still playing, doing really well in the Premier League, scoring goals. That’s no coincidence.

“His love for football drives him on. There will be other motivations but the stand out one for me is that he just loves training and playing on a Saturday.

“Both him and Richie have obvious qualities but deep down their love for football was exactly the same as mine.”

NEIL SULLIVAN

“He was a massive inspiration for me, into his late 30s and early 40s at Doncaster.

“I’ll never forget when we won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final - the joy that it brought us, but the joy that it brought him.

“He had such a fantastic career, an illustrious career at Premier League level playing for the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Wimbledon.

“When he came to Doncaster, I think that was the first trophy he had won.

“You could see how much it meant to him. Looking at him, I thought ‘wow, that means a lot.’ It was motivation in itself.

“Day to day and the way that he conducted himself. You’d drive into the training ground in a morning, park your car and he’d already be in the gym on the treadmill, working hard and trying to stay fit.

“When we did train, he was always one of the best in training.

“He’s the best goalkeeper that I’ve ever worked with to an extent. Obviously I worked with Shay Given and Steve Harper that were really good as well.

“But I worked closer and longer with Sully and he just oozed class.

“Him coming in for the last few games of that Brentford season was huge for the club.

“You could see that he just calmed everyone down in those last two games as we got over the line.

“He was definitely a standout player that I looked up to and I still do.”