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David "Davie" Cooper (25 February 1956 – 23 March 1995) was a Scottish professional football player who played as a Winger for Clydebank (twice), Rangers and Motherwell. He also played for the Scotland national team. Cooper is often remembered as one of the most gifted footballers of his generation.
|Date of birth||25 February 1956|
|Place of birth||Hamilton, Scotland|
|Date of death||23 March 1995(aged 39)|
|Place of death||Glasgow, Scotland|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Cooper was born in Hamilton, Scotland, on 25 February 1956. He attended Beckford Street Primary in Hamilton before moving on to Udston Primary. As captain of the team, he played at left-half (the equivalent of left midfield in contemporary footballing terms) and at inside left (roughly equivalent to a modern-day deep-lying striker).
Cooper later attended St. John's Grammar School (now Hamilton Grammar School) and went on to play for local juvenile team Udston United. Cooper was a Rangers supporter in his youth and attended matches at Ibrox with his father and brother. His brother, John, was a youth team player in the English Football League with Hull City, but he failed to secure a career as a professional footballer.
Cooper himself later moved on to Hamilton Avon dale, where he played with the Under-16 team, before progressing to the Under-18 team. At that time he was working as an apprentice printer with the brothers who ran Hamilton Avondale. He had gained a cap for the Scottish Amateur League, but his first International recognition came when he represented his country at Under-18 level against the Home Nations.
Rangers, Motherwell, Clyde and Clydebank, together with English sides Coventry City and Crystal Palace, all expressed an interest in signing the Cooper. He subsequently signed for Clydebank before the start of the 1974–75 season.
Cooper's full début was also against Airdrie and again in the Scottish League Cup on Wednesday 28 August, but again Airdrie won; this time by 2–1. This game was his first appearance at New Kilbowie Park.
Cooper first played on the winning side for the Bankies on 30 November, when they beat Cowdenbeath at Kilbowie by 2–1. His first goal for the team came two games later when, again at Kilbowie, he scored the third goal in the 4–1 defeat of Alloa Athletic. Cooper ended the season with 29 starts, 2 as a sub, and scored 5 goals.
In the 1975–76 season, Cooper was one of four ever-presents. He finished top of the Clydebank goalscoring list with 13 in the League, three of which were penalties. His first hat-trick in Senior football included two penalties at Alloa Athletic, where Clydebank won 3–1. Cooper played in all of Clydebank's 49 games that season, scoring 22 goals and seeing the club promoted to the First Division.
Cooper's last goal for the Bankies was against Raith Rovers in a 2–0 win at New Kilbowie on 23 April 1977. His last game was at Brockville in a 4–2 win, a week later.
At the age of 21, Cooper was sold to Rangers for £100,000 on 8 June 1977, receiving a signing on fee of £10,000, and on a wage of £150 per week.
Cooper appeared in 52 of Rangers 53 matches in the 1977–78 season, as Jock Wallace's side won the domestic treble. His first league goal for Rangers came against St Mirren at Love Street on 17 September 1977 in a 3–3 draw. His last goal came almost exactly eleven years later, also against St Mirren. His first Ibrox goal for the club came a fortnight later in a 4–1 win against Clydebank. He scored his second in the same match – direct from a corner kick. He scored eight goals in total in his first season at Rangers.
The following season, Cooper made 49 appearances and scored ten goals as Rangers won both domestic cup competitions. In this season Cooper scored a memorable goal against Celtic in the 1979 Drybrough Cup Final. It was voted the greatest ever Rangers goal by Rangers fans and listed by The Guardian's Rob Smyth as the second greatest ever solo goal, after Diego Maradona's Goal of the Century.
The 1979–80 season was the first of only three seasons during his time at Ibrox that the club failed to win a trophy.
The following season (1980–81), Cooper started fewer than half of the scheduled league games. He was, however, part of the starting line-up for the cup final replay against Dundee United which Rangers won. This was Davie's last Scottish Cup winners medal for the Ibrox side.
In the 1981–1982 season Cooper started his 21st consecutive League Cup tie for Rangers as they won through to the Final. His only goal in the Ibrox side's 11 ties came in the Final. Cooper played in all but six league fixtures as Rangers attained third place.
In the 1982–83 season, Cooper scored his first hat-trick for Rangers (in a Sectional League Cup tie against Kilmarnock) and his first and only European goal, against Borussia Dortmund at Ibrox, in the UEFA Cup. it was his most prolific goalscoring season for the club, scoring 12 goals in all competitions.
Cooper won league cup medals in 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87 and 1987–88. He scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in 1986–87 against Celtic.
Cooper scored eight Scottish Premier Division goals in the 1986–87 season, when Rangers won their first league title for nine years.
The following season, in the League Cup, Cooper scored a free-kick, Rangers's first goal in a 3–3 draw against Aberdeen. Rangers won 5–3 on penalties. This was Cooper's seventh winners medal.
On 9 August 1988, Cooper's testimonial match against Girondins de Bordeaux saw over 43,000 spectators watch Rangers win 3–2 with Terry Butcher, Kevin Drinkell and Ally McCoist netting for Rangers. Cooper finished his Rangers career with 75 goals in 540 appearances. When asked to describe the highlight of his time at Rangers, he simply responded "I played for the team I loved."
After 12 years at Ibrox, Cooper signed for Motherwell, then managed by former teammate Tommy McLean in August 1989. Cooper spent nearly five years at Fir Park, playing over 150 times for the "Steelmen" and contributed to the club winning its first major trophy in 39 years: The 1991 Scottish Cup Final against Dundee United. Motherwell won 4–3 after extra-time.
Cooper earned a further four International caps as a Motherwell player but an injury precluded him from being selected for the Scotland squad for the 1990 FIFA World Cup Finals in Italy. His last cap came in a friendly against Egypt on 16 May 1990.
Return to ClydebankEdit
While with Motherwell, Cooper had been working in a coaching capacity with the reserve and youth sides. In December 1993 he returned to Clydebank as a player, but also to assist in coaching duties. In 1993–94 he played in a total of 20 games, including sixteen starts and four as a substitute. In 1994–95 he was almost an ever-present in the side, until the start of February – when he played his last first team match against Hearts in the Scottish Cup Third Round Replay at Tynecastle on 7 February 1995.
Cooper scored his last goal against Airdrie in the League Cup Semi-final that season and his last appearance in a Clydebank jersey was in a reserve fixture at New Kilbowie on 21 February 1995 against Hamilton Academical.
Cooper made his international debut for Scotland's under-21s in the 1976–77 season in a 0–0 draw versus the Czech Republic in Pilsen. Cooper won another three caps that season, versus Wales, Switzerland and England.
Cooper's debut for the full national side was on 12 September 1979 in a 1–1 draw in a friendly with Peru at Hampden Park. Cooper played for the national team again the following month in a 1–1 draw at home to Austria in the Euro 1980 qualifiers, but after that Cooper wasn't capped again for over four years. Cooper returned to the national team on 28 February 1984, scoring against Wales in a 2–1 Home Championship win. Cooper was on the scoresheet for Scotland again later in the year in a 6–1 friendly win over Yugoslavia.
Cooper became a regular in the Scotland team and prior to the 1986 World Cup Finals, Cooper played in 11 consecutive games. Cooper played in the crucial match against Wales at Ninian Park, coming on as substitute for Gordon Strachan and scoring an equalising penalty, which was instrumental in Scotland's ultimately successful qualifying campaign, (after a play-off against Australia) for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Cooper scored his final two goals from six in total for the Scottish senior side on 12 November 1986 in a 3–0 home win over Luxembourg in the Euro 88 qualifiers. Cooper was capped four more times for Scotland afterwards, the last of his 22 caps earned on 16 May 1990 in a friendly against Egypt at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, which the Egyptians won 3–1.
- Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
|1||28 February 1984||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||Wales||1–0||2–1||British Home Championship|
|2||12 September 1984||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||Yugoslavia||1–0||6–1||Friendly match|
|3||10 September 1985||Ninian Park, Cardiff, Wales||Wales||1–1||1–1||1986 FIFA World Cup qualifying|
|4||20 November 1985||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||Australia||1–0||2–0||1986 FIFA World Cup play-off|
|5||12 November 1986||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||Luxembourg||1–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying|
|6||12 November 1986||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||Luxembourg||2–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying|
Cooper suffered a brain haemorrhage on 22 March 1995 at Broadwood Stadium, where he and former Celtic, Arsenal, Aberdeen and Scotland player Charlie Nicholas, alongside Tommy Craig, were recording a coaching film for youngsters called 'Shoot' for Scottish Television. Cooper, who was 39 years old, died in hospital the next day. His funeral took place at Hillhouse Parish Church, Hamilton, on 27 March 1995, and he was buried in the town's Bent cemetery.
Cooper is remembered as one of the most significant players in the histories of Clydebank, Rangers and Motherwell football clubs. In his tribute to Cooper, the then Rangers manager, Walter Smith, said that "God gave Davie Cooper a talent. He would not be disappointed with how it was used."
Dutch international Ruud Gullit played against Davie Cooper in a friendly match for Feyenoord against Rangers, after which he called Cooper one of the greatest players he had ever seen. Gullit later named Cooper in his greatest XI in football magazine Four Four Two.
After Cooper's death, Motherwell renamed Fir Park's North Stand in his honour. The 2005 Scottish League Cup Final between Rangers and Motherwell paid tribute to Cooper's memory. Ticket stubs had an image of him printed on them, and a percentage of the programme sales went towards establishing a centre for special needs children.
- Scottish Premier Division: 1977–78, 1986–87, 1988–89
- Scottish Cup: 1977–78, 1978–79, 1980–81
- Scottish League Cup: 1977–78, 1978–79, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88
- Davie Cooper at Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Player's Database
- "Davie Cooper dies aged 39". The Independent. London. 24 March 1995.
- "Davie Cooper". Scotzine. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Smyth, Rob (8 January 2010). "The Joy of Six: Solo goals". The Guardian. London.
- "Davie Cooper - Scottish Caps 1979-90 - Scotland". Sporting Heroes.
- "Ruud Gullit: Perfect XI". fourfourtwo.com.
- "Davie Cooper Profile". Rangers Website. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- "CIS Cup Final Preview". Sporting Life. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2010.