James Coppinger: ‘I almost quit football’

James Coppinger celebrates his goal at Chesterfield with Reece Wabara.
James Coppinger celebrates his goal at Chesterfield with Reece Wabara.

James Coppinger has revealed how he almost quit football shortly after joining Doncaster Rovers.

The 34-year-old winger - who this week unveiled his Rovers testimonial plans - says a fear of both failure and success came close to driving him out of the sport.

Speaking in an online promotional video for Terry Gormley, who worked with Doncaster’s squad during the Dave Penney era, the Rovers veteran reveals how the mentor and motivational speaker changed his life.

Coppinger, who this week underwent two scans on the ankle injury he suffered at Chesterfield on Saturday, describes Gormley as “one of the most powerful men I have ever met”.

“Before I met Terry I’d been relegated out of the Football League with Exeter,” said Coppinger.

“I had a lot of negative things going on in my life. I had a fear of failing - and also a fear of success.

“The way I was going and the way I was thinking, before I met Terry, it was only a matter of time before I came out of football.”

Coppinger, whose 440 appearances for Doncaster place him second on the club’s all-time list behind Colin Douglas (468), joined Rovers on a free transfer from Exeter in 2004.

It was not long before he was introduced to Gormley, who was drafted in by Penney in an attempt to improve results.

“I’d moved from Exeter up to Doncaster and I was in a place where I needed to change my career path and get my career back on track,” said Coppinger, who made one Premier League appearance for Newcastle United prior to joining Exeter.

“Dave Penney was manager at the time and he introduced me to Terry. We had four, five, six sessions which inspired me and changed my life completely.

“It wasn’t just about football. It changed my personal life and everyday life.

“It changed me as a person - the way that I think and the way that I act.

“It’s also helped me as a player. I’ve been at Doncaster Rovers ten years now and I’ve gone from strength to strength.

“It’s a cliche, but Terry has changed my life.”

Coppinger is a major doubt for Saturday’s home clash with Walsall, a game that will see loan striker Uche Ikpeazu make his home debut after impressing in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Chesterfield.

James Coppinger unveiled plans for his testimonial year at a press event yesterday:

Celebrations will kick off with a Rovers ‘Legends’ charity match in April - a game organisers hope will feature One Direction star Louis Tomlinson.

Doncaster Rovers are pencilled in to face Middlesbrough in pre-season. Coppinger hails from nearby Guisborough. The fixture is dependent on Rovers and Boro being in different leagues next season.

Golf day in May.

Sportsman’s Dinner at the Keepmoat Stadium in October.

For more information visit www.jamescoppinger.co.uk.