Colin Cooper

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Colin Cooper
Personal information
Full nameColin Terence Cooper
Date of birth (1967-02-28) 28 February 1967 (age 54)
Place of birth Durham, England
Position(s) Defender
Senior career*
1984–1991 Middlesbrough 188 (6)
1991–1993 Millwall 77 (6)
1993–1998 Nottingham Forest 180 (20)
1998–2006 Middlesbrough 158 (4)
2004Sunderland (loan) 3 (0)
National team
1988–1989 England U21 8 (0)
1995 England 2 (0)
Teams managed
2009 Middlesbrough (caretaker)
2011 Bradford City (caretaker)
2013–2014 Hartlepool United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Colin Terence Cooper (born 28 February 1967 [1] ) is an English former professional footballer. Cooper spent most of his playing career at Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest. Prior to his appointment at Hartlepool, Cooper was part of the Middlesbrough coaching staff after leaving his role of assistant manager at Bradford City.


Playing career

He played as a centre back, but was equally useful at full-back. He spent the first seven years of his professional career contracted to Middlesbrough, making 188 league appearances and scoring six league goals in the process. During this time, he helped Middlesbrough through liquidation in 1986. [2]

In the summer of 1991, he was transferred to Division Two side Millwall for the sum of £300,000 spending two successful seasons at The Den. [3]

After impressing several big name clubs, he decided to move to Nottingham Forest in 1993 for £1,700,000. It was at Forest where Colin arguably played the best football of his career, his form earning him two England caps in 1995 against Sweden and Brazil. [4]

After experiencing the joys of two promotions and the heart-break of a relegation, "Super Coops" was re-purchased by his first club, Middlesbrough, in a £2,500,000 deal. Many people questioned the signing of the stalwart from Nottingham Forest, but Colin proved to many people that he was more than capable of playing Premier League football. He maintained a consistent level of play throughout the seven years that he spent with Middlesbrough, and could always be relied upon to do a job. He almost gave up the game in 2002 after his son, Finlay, died in an accident at the family home [5] just hours after their victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup. [6] In 2003–04, he spent some time on loan with Sunderland. Cooper was part of Middlesbrough's 2004 League Cup-winning team. Despite not making the squad for the final [7] he appeared in the earlier rounds. [8]

In 2005, Cooper was awarded a one-year contract extension, which saw him play at the age of 39. His final season with Middlesbrough, 2005–06, saw Boro reach the 2006 UEFA Cup Final. However, he made just one appearance all campaign, coming on as a late substitute on the last day of the season against Fulham. [9]

International career

Cooper made his England international debut in a 3–3 draw against Sweden. [10] He gained two caps for the England national team and made eight caps for the Under-21 side where he finished runners-up with the U21s in the 1988 Tournoi Espoirs de Toulon tournament.


After he retired from playing, in June 2006, Cooper was officially given a job with the Middlesbrough coaching staff, as the Reserve team coach. [11] Following Steve Round's departure from the club in December 2006, Cooper was promoted to a more active role with the first team. [12] Following the departure of Malcolm Crosby on 17 June 2009, [13] Cooper was promoted to assistant manager at Middlesbrough. [14] On 22 October 2009, following the departure of manager Gareth Southgate, Cooper was appointed caretaker manager at Middlesbrough. [15] However, he was only employed in this position for four days, as Gordon Strachan was announced as the new manager on 26 October. [16] Cooper's solitary match in charge was a 2–2 draw with Preston North End on 24 October 2009. [17] In May 2010, Cooper was relieved of all duties at Middlesbrough by Strachan. [18]

On 9 March 2011, Cooper was appointed as assistant to interim manager Peter Jackson at League Two side Bradford City. [19] [20] Jackson was subsequently appointed full-time manager on 25 May 2011, [21] but he resigned on 25 August 2011, [22] resulting in Cooper taking over as caretaker manager. [23] winning his first game 4–2 against Barnet. Phil Parkinson was appointed as Jackson's permanent successor, [24] and on 8 September 2011, Cooper left Bradford to rejoin Middlesbrough and take up a coaching role with Middlesbrough's under-18 side. [25]

On 24 May 2013, he became manager at Football League Two side Hartlepool United, replacing John Hughes, who had been sacked the previous month. [26] He named fellow ex-Middlesbrough player Craig Hignett as his assistant manager. [26] After winning four out of five league games in October, Cooper won the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month Award. [27]

Cooper resigned as Hartlepool United manager on 4 October 2014, after a 3–0 home defeat by Carlisle United, which left the club at the bottom of the League Two table. [28]

In April 2016, Cooper joined Gareth Southgate's coaching staff at the England U21's. [29]

Media work

Cooper was a regular guest on the ITV late night football review programme Soccer Night , which was hosted by Roger Tames. During this programme, three legendary figures, representing one of each of the North-East's top three clubs (Middlesbrough, Sunderland, and Newcastle United), come to the studio and discuss recent footballing events.

Charity work

In 2006, Colin and his wife Julie, formed the charity the Finlay Cooper Fund, named after his son who died in a tragic accident in 2002, which raises money for children's causes. [30] In 2013, Colin and 12 others (which included Craig Hignett and Jeff Stelling) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity; [31] the climb raised £100,000. [32]

Career statistics

Playing career

Statistics for league appearances only

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Middlesbrough 1984–85Division 200
1985–86Division 2110
1986–87Division 3460
1987–88Division 2432
1988–89Division 1352
1989–90Division 2212
1990–91Division 2320
Millwall 1991–92Division 2362
1992–93Division 1414
Nottingham Forest 1993–94Division 1377
1994–95Premier League351
1995–96Premier League375
1996–97Premier League362
1997–98Division 1355
Middlesbrough 1998–99Premier League321
1999–2000Premier League260
2000–01Premier League271
2001–02Premier League182
2002–03Premier League200
2003–04Premier League190
2004–05Premier League150
2005–06Premier League10
Sunderland (on loan)2003–04Division 130
Career total60636

Managerial career

As of 4 October 2014 [33]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Middlesbrough (caretaker)20 October 200926 October 20092110050.0
Bradford City (caretaker)25 August 201129 August 20111100100.0
Hartlepool United 24 May 20134 October 201465191432029.2




Nottingham Forest

England U21s



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