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For Ollie Cooper the campaign will always be one he looks back on fondly after making his first-team breakthrough, and he hopes there is even more he will be able to remember it for. Here, the young midfielder talks about growing up with a footballer for father, and the twist of fate that saw him end up with the Swans. After all, the year-old had actually played against the Stevenage first team in Swansea colours before on the same ground.
The milestones have kept coming for Cooper since that foggy January afternoon in Hertfordshire. A first senior goal came in the next round of the cup in a win over Nottingham Forest at the Liberty, while a Championship debut came in the April win over Millwall at The Den. Appearances against Derby and Watford have followed, all adding up to the sense of this being a real breakthrough campaign for the highly-rated midfielder.
For me to score a goal in the FA Cup, such a famous and brilliant competition, was a great moment for me. Cooper has long been identified as a player with the potential to make the jump to the first-team environment, and he was promoted to the senior squad at the start of the season.
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He has been at the club since under level, but his football journey actually started in Derby where father Kevin began his own career. He used to go to the home and away games, and it meant a lot to him especially.
He played for a of teams, and I was never quite at the age to appreciate him as a player. It was just what he did, and I wanted to support him.
That means there has been no shortage of expertise for Cooper to call upon during his development journey. But he is grateful that his father encouraged him to play as often as possible as a youngster. It just allowed me to make up the hours that I would have got if I had been in an academy.
You just have that energy and you cannot get enough of having the ball at your feet. The times I remember were towards the end of his career when we were in Wales and he played for Newport and Neath.
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I understand it more because I am trying to forge my own career. But, as he explains, it took a twist of fate to set Cooper on his way to the Swans. I went down there for a week and then we played the academy. From there they offered me an academy trial for six weeks, and I was offered a contract on the back of that. Or I could have had a stinker with the scout there watching. Ryan Bennett is good with that too.
The senior guys are very helpful. The production line of the Swansea academy has certainly churned out a of impressive performers over the years. But still more young players are making the step up, including a who Cooper has played alongside for much of his fledgling career. But he also highlights the work of his academy coaches, particularly current first-team coach Alan Tate and head of academy coaching Jon Grey.
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Those little details helped me get into the team and stay there. He has been a big figure for me on and off the pitch. Cooper has no doubt he benefited from the chance to feature in the Checkatrade Trophy and the Premier League International Cup, scoring a hat-trick against Porto in the latter.
But he also believes hat how he has handled a couple of difficult spells on the sidelines through injury has also played a big part in where he finds himself now. The commitment to ensure he was physically able to handle the demands of the senior game at Championship level means he feels stronger and capable of holding his own when given his chances.
You are in the building and around everyone, it helps with the boredom and loneliness. The step from unders to the first team is a big one and I feel I need to be stronger. And what of this final section of the season, with promotion still very much on the line for the Swans.
Cooper speaks very highly of the work done by namesake and head coach Steve, but he is keen to make sure the Swansea boss has a headache or two when it comes to the make-up of his matchday squ for the key fixtures. I want to play, to score, to set up goals. I want to show people what I can do.
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