Liam David Ian Cooper (born 30 August 1991) is a professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Premier League club Leeds United and the Scotland national team.

Liam Cooper
LiamCooper.jpg
Cooper in 2021
Personal information
Full name Liam David Ian Cooper[1]
Date of birth (1991-08-30) 30 August 1991 (age 30)[2]
Place of birth Kingston upon Hull, England
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[3]
Position(s) Centre-back
Club information
Current team
Leeds United
Number 6
Youth career
2002–2008 Hull City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2012 Hull City 11 (0)
2011Carlisle United (loan) 6 (1)
2011Huddersfield Town (loan) 4 (0)
2012–2013Chesterfield (loan) 10 (1)
2013–2014 Chesterfield 61 (4)
2014– Leeds United 222 (9)
National team
2008 Scotland U17 5 (0)
2009 Scotland U19 1 (0)
2019– Scotland 11 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:30, 30 November 2021 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12:02, 18 October 2021 (UTC)

Cooper came through the youth academy at Hull City before making his debut with the first team at the age of 16. He spent time on loan at Carlisle United and Huddersfield Town, before moving to Chesterfield in 2012. He won promotion to League One with the Spireites in 2014 before joining Leeds United later that year. He has played over 200 games for the Yorkshire club, captaining them to promotion to the Premier League in 2020.

Cooper made his senior debut for Scotland national team in 2019, having previously played for the under-17s and under-19s during his time at Hull City. He represented the side at UEFA Euro 2020.

Early and personal lifeEdit

Cooper was born in Kingston upon Hull and attended Malet Lambert school.[4][5] His paternal grandfather John hailed from Bo'ness in Scotland, and his father worked on the pilot boats on the River Humber where Liam's brother Joe would later join him.[6]

Growing up, his father was a West Ham United fan and would take him to games, while the rest of his family were Hull City supporters. Liam, however, supported Leeds United.[7]

In March 2020, Cooper opened his own Football Academy for youngsters aged 4-14.[8]

Club careerEdit

Hull CityEdit

Cooper joined his hometown club Hull City in 2002 at under-12 level.[9] He was in the youth team that won the Football League Youth Alliance Cup Final against Colchester 3–0, scoring the opening goal but later being sent off for a deliberate handball.[10]

During the 2007–08 season, he was given the number 37 shirt but failed to make any appearances as the Tigers went on to win promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. He made his debut as 16-year-old for the club against Swansea City in the League Cup on 26 August 2008 and featured as an unused substitute in their Premier League defeat to Wigan Athletic four days later after signing his first professional contract.[11] A year later, he would make his first Premier League start on 26 September 2009 at Anfield in a 6–1 defeat to Liverpool.[12]

Over the following three years, Cooper would find his opportunities limited at Hull and spent brief periods out on loan at Carlisle United and Huddersfield Town in 2011.[13][14] He briefly returned to the first team under Nick Barmby to form a solid partnership with James Chester in March 2012 for the rest of the season following an injury to Jack Hobbs. When Barmby departed for Steve Bruce in the summer of 2012, he was replaced by the new manager's son Alex. [15]

ChesterfieldEdit

Cooper joined League Two side Chesterfield in November 2012. He made his debut in a 6–1 win over Hartlepool United in the FA Cup,[16] and scored on his league debut two weeks later in a 2–1 victory over Oxford United.[17] The 2012–13 season was Cooper's first year of playing regular professional football, making 31 appearances in all competitions as the Spireites narrowly missed out on a play–off spot.

The 2013–14 would prove to be a memorable campaign for both Cooper and Chesterfield under manager Paul Cook. The club reached the 2014 Football League Trophy Final and played at Wembley Stadium, but ultimately lost 1–3 to Peterborough United in front of more than 35,000 fans.[18] In the league, Cooper formed a formidable partnership with Ian Evatt as the team won the division and were promoted to League One. At the end of the season, Cooper was named in the PFA Team of the Year along with two other Chesterfield players.[19]

Leeds UnitedEdit

Early years and captaincyEdit

 
Cooper during the 2015–16 season

Cooper came to the attention of Leeds United after impressing Sporting Director Nicola Salerno in a 2–2 preseason draw at the b2net Stadium in the summer of 2014. After weeks of negotiations, Leeds agreed a deal for £600,000 plus add-ons relating to appearances, a future sale and promotion; with Cooper joining the club on 13 August.[20] After winning promotion to the Premier League in 2020, the Spireites received an additional £150,000 from the sale.[21]

He made his debut three days later at home to Middlesbrough in a 1–0 win, before being made club captain by Neil Redfearn midway through his first season. He would struggle for consistency under a succession of managers, losing his starting place to Sol Bamba and later to Pontus Jansson, but would still go on to make over 100 appearances during his first four seasons with the club. During a period of 30 games between 2017 and 2018, Cooper was sent off three times and received another six game ban for a stamp on Reading defender Reece Oxford.[22] His propensity to be a liability in games earned him the disparaging nickname 'League One Liam' among Leeds fans at the time, but Cooper remained a highly respected captain amongst his team mates.[23] He kept hold of the captaincy during Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom's time as manager in the 2017–18 campaign, who would be his 7th and 8th manager respectively at the club in less than four years.

Bielsa and promotionEdit

Cooper retained the captaincy after the shock appointment of the world renowned Marcelo Bielsa as Head Coach in the summer of 2018. In Bielsa's first game, he scored the third goal in a comprehensive 3–1 victory over promotion favourites Stoke City, as Leeds ascended to the top of the Championship by Christmas.[24] Leeds would eventually lose out on automatic promotion to Norwich City and Sheffield United as their form dipped in the second half of the 2018–2019 campaign, before losing 3–4 on aggregate to Derby County in the play-offs.[25] In spite of a disappointing end to a season that had long looked so promising, Cooper was widely perceived to be one of the most improved players in the team under the new head coach, and was included in the EFL Championship Team of the Season, EFL Team of the Season,[26] as well at the PFA's Championship Team of the Season with team mates Pontus Jansson and Pablo Hernández.[27]

The 2019–2020 marked Leeds' centenary year and Cooper's sixth season with the club. He would sign a new five year deal with the club in September, and would be present at The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 to collect the FIFA Fair Play Award on behalf of Bielsa and the Leeds United team for allowing Aston Villa to score an uncontested goal in the previous season.[28][29] On the pitch, The team's nine–point lead at Christmas in the automatic promotion zone was completely eroded by the beginning of February after a run of four defeats in five games.[30] With questions again being asked of Leeds ability to maintain the form over the course of a full season, Cooper would score a crucial equaliser in a 1–1 draw in the following game against promotion rivals Brentford.[31] It would later transpire that Cooper's son had been in hospital for three days prior to the game and there were doubts over whether he would play at all.[32] The result proved to be a catalyst for the Yorkshire club's season, as they went on to win their next five games with Cooper being part of a defence that would also keep five clean sheets, taking the team back to the summit of the table and reestablishing a seven–point lead in the automatic promotion places.[33] The momentum building around the club with only nine games remaining would be halted six days later when the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[34]

The season would resume behind closed doors three months later in June, with Leeds' five match winning run coming to an immediate end with a 0–2 defeat to Cardiff City. Leeds would only drop two further points from the remaining eight games, as Leeds secured promotion to the Premier League on 17 July after West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town beat West Bromwich Albion 2–1, and won the Championship title the following day after Brentford failed to beat Stoke City.[35] Cooper became the first Leeds United captain to win promotion since Gordon Strachan in 1990 and lifted the Championship title on 22 July after a 4–0 win over Charlton Athletic on the final day of the season, immortalising himself in the club's history.[36] He would also retain his place in the PFA Team of the Year.[37]

Premier LeagueEdit

Cooper missed Leeds' first Premier League game for 16 years in a 3–4 away defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season after picking up an injury. In the following match, he made his first Premier League start since September 2009 in a 4–3 win over Fulham. The period between starts at 10 years, 359 days was a league record for the greatest length of time between starts.[38] The following game against Sheffield United also marked his 200th appearance with the club and the first player to reach that number of games since Luciano Becchio in 2012.[39] Cooper joins a select group of just under 70 players[40] that have made over 200 appearances for the club, including current teammates Stuart Dallas and Kalvin Phillips who also hit the milestone later in the season.

International careerEdit

Cooper was eligible to represent England, having been born in Kingston upon Hull, and Scotland through his paternal grandfather who was born in Bo'ness, West Lothian.[41] During his time in the youth team at Hull City, he chose to represent Scotland and made his debut at under-17 level in March 2008, before going on to play for the under-19s in 2009.[42]

Cooper received his first call-up to the senior Scotland squad on 10 March 2016 for a friendly against Denmark,[43] but he would have to wait for more than three years to make his debut in a 1–2 defeat to Russia on 6 September 2019.[44] He began to feature frequently for Scotland in 2020 and played 120 minutes against Israel in the UEFA Euro 2020 play-off semi final, which Scotland won 5–3 on penalties after a 0–0 draw.[45] A muscle injury meant that he would miss the final against Serbia, which Scotland again won on penalties to qualify for Euro 2020 – their first major tournament since France 98.[46] Cooper started the first game of the tournament against the Czech Republic at Hampden Park, a 2–0 defeat for Scotland.

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

As of 30 November 2021[47]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Hull City 2008–09 Premier League 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
2009–10 Premier League 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 4 0
2010–11 Championship 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 0
2011–12 Championship 7 0 2 0 0 0 9 0
Total 11 0 2 0 4 0 0 0 17 0
Carlisle United (loan) 2010–11 League One 6 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 7 1
Huddersfield Town (loan) 2011–12 League One 4 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 7 0
Chesterfield 2012–13 League Two 29 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 31 3
2013–14 League Two 41 3 1 0 0 0 6 0 48 3
2014–15 League One 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 71 5 3 1 0 0 6 0 80 6
Leeds United 2014–15[48] Championship 29 1 1 0 1 0 31 1
2015–16[49] Championship 39 1 1 0 1 0 41 1
2016–17[50] Championship 11 0 2 0 5 0 18 0
2017–18[51] Championship 30 1 1 0 1 0 32 1
2018–19[52] Championship 36 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 38 3
2019–20[53] Championship 38 2 0 0 0 0 38 2
2020–21[54] Premier League 25 1 1 0 0 0 26 1
2021–22[55] Premier League 14 0 0 0 1 0 15 0
Total 222 9 6 0 9 0 2 0 239 9
Career total 314 14 11 1 14 0 11 0 350 15

HonoursEdit

Chesterfield

Leeds United

Individual

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Club list of registered players: As at 19th May 2018: Leeds United" (PDF). English Football League. p. 21. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Player Profiles". Hull City A.F.C. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ "Liam Cooper". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Breaking news: Cooper called up for Tigers". Hull Daily Mail. 27 August 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Liam Cooper". City Magazine. No. 37. September 2008. p. 50.
  6. ^ "Leeds United's Liam Cooper reaping rewards of hard graft with his arrival in Premier League". The Times. 6 September 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Player says father West Ham Fan, but he supports Leeds". BBC Sport. 22 June 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  8. ^ Reynolds, Louis (19 December 2019). "Liam Cooper commits to project away from Leeds United ahead of 2020". Football League World. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Liam Cooper". City Magazine. No. 37. September 2008. p. 50.
  10. ^ "City Youngsters Win Cup After 3–0 Win". Hull City A.F.C. 29 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Cooper Signs Professional Contract". Hull City A.F.C. 30 August 2008. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  12. ^ Stevenson, Jonathan (26 September 2009). "Liverpool 6–1 Hull". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  13. ^ "Carlisle United sign Liam Cooper and Liam Noble". BBC Sport. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Town Sign Cooper on Season Loan". Huddersfield Town F.C. 8 July 2011. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  15. ^ "From Hull City boy wonder to Leeds United captain: How bitter rejection was the making of Liam Cooper". Hull Daily Mail. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Chesterfield 6–1 Hartlepool United". BBC Sport. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Chesterfield 2–1 Oxford United". BBC Sport. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Spireites Defeated at Wembley". Chesterfield F.C. 30 March 2014. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ "League Two Team of the Year 2014". The PFA Official Website. 27 April 2014. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ "The inside story of Liam Cooper's move to Leeds United and how Chesterfield could benefit from Whites promotion". The Derbyshire Times. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  21. ^ "New Chesterfield FC owners "very disappointed" after missing out on six-figure sum from Liam Cooper's Leeds United Premier League promotion". The Derbyshire Times. 12 August 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Liam Cooper: Leeds United defender banned for six matches for 'stamp'". BBC Sport. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Liam Cooper exclusive: 'Before Bielsa, we accepted being mediocre. The fanbase expected it. We won't let it go back to being like that'". The Athletic. 25 December 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
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  26. ^ a b "EFL Awards 2019: Shortlists revealed". EFL. 26 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  27. ^ "EFL awards: Che Adams, Teemu Pukki & Billy Sharp on Championship shortlist". BBC Sport. 26 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas: Leeds United pair sign new deals". BBC Sport. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  29. ^ "Messi, Rapinoe Crowned The Best in Milan". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 23 September 2019. Archived from the original on 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
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  34. ^ "Coronavirus: Premier League and EFL suspended in England – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland halt games". BBC Sport. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
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  37. ^ "PFA AWARDS 2019/20". PFA. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
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  42. ^ "Yahoo UK & Ireland – Sports News | Live Scores | Results". uk.sports.yahoo.com.
  43. ^ "Scotland: Six new call-ups for Czech Republic and Denmark friendlies". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  44. ^ "Scotland 1 Russia 2". BBC Sport. 6 September 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
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  54. ^ "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2020/2021". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  55. ^ "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2021/2022". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
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  61. ^ "PFA Player of the Year: Kevin de Bruyne and Beth England named 2020 winners". BBC Sport. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.

External linksEdit