icon_corner icon_start_stop icon_start_stop icon_start_stop icon_post icon_miss icon_save icon_card_red icon_save icon_start_stop icon_sub icon_card_yellow accessibility icon account-off icon account-on icon arrow-left icon arrow-right icon attack icon chevron-down icon chevron-left icon chevron-right icon chevron-up icon Combined Shape Created with Sketch. cross icon defence icon icon_disallowed_goal email icon facebook icon giphy icon google icon instagram icon linkedin icon lock icon messenger icon padlock icon Svg Vector Icons : http://www.onlinewebfonts.com/icon Panel Created with Sketch. Pattern Created with Sketch. pinterest icon Icon_PlayButton Created with Sketch. plus-thin icon plus icon Created with Sketch. Created with Sketch. search icon soundcloud icon sub-in icon sub-out icon tweet icon twitter icon icon_user__out icon_user_out vimeo icon whatsapp icon icon_start_stop youtube icon


From Cleethorpes to coaching, Shaun Cooper has seen it all


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Although injury robbed Shaun Cooper of the chance to captain AFC Bournemouth in one of the most pivotal games in their recent history, he led from the front as they pulled off the Greatest Escape.

Today marks 11 years since the Cherries famously preserved their Football League status by triumphing 2-1 against Grimsby Town at Vitality Stadium.

Victory saw Eddie Howe's heroes claw back a 17-point deduction to cap a season which provided the springboard for the club to embark on its rapid rise to the Premier League.

To mark the occasion, afcb.co.uk looks back at Cooper's career, both as a player and coach, starting on a dank November night at Blundell Park in Cleethorpes where the Cherries faced the Mariners in the reverse fixture.

It was 2008 and AFC Bournemouth, 12 points from safety at the bottom of the Football League, were trailing 3-1 to Grimsby Town, the team directly above them in the table.

There were 11 minutes remaining when Darren Anderton stepped forward.

His goal gave the visitors hope, only for Scott Guyett’s sending off just four minutes later to leave them starring down the barrel of another dispiriting defeat.

But a miracle occurred.

Lee Bradbury, who had opened the scoring for the Cherries in the sixth minute, grabbed an equaliser in the 89th minute.

The Cherries, in Cooper’s first game as captain, moved on to minus two points.

It proved to be a defining moment in the club’s history and in the career of Cooper.

Appointed captain by Jimmy Quinn in the wake of a disastrous 3-0 defeat at Accrington, Cooper retained the armband after Eddie Howe had taken the reins on New Year’s Eve.

And he led from the front as Howe’s Heroes pulled off the Greatest Escape and preserved their Football League status against all the odds.

“Grimsby away...I remember it well!” said Cooper, who played 240 games during a seven-year stay with the Cherries between 2005 and 2012.

“Late equalisers always have you walking off the pitch feeling like you’ve just won.

“But with every point as important as it was for us back then, you can imagine what the dressing room was like afterwards.

“To be captain of that squad was a huge privilege and this game was one of many fond memories I have of that season.”

Cooper joined the Cherries in 2005 having spent eight years at Portsmouth where he made seven appearances after progressing through the youth ranks.

He found his way to Fratton Park after impressing Pompey scouts during a trial match between Isle of Wight under-13s and Portsmouth schools.

As a 12-year-old, Cooper, raised across the Solent in Newport, was also offered terms by AFC Bournemouth and Southampton but opted for Portsmouth along with his two friends Lewis Buxton and Adam Howarth.

During his playing days with the Cherries, Cooper, whose versatility saw him deployed in defence and midfield, was one of the first names on the team-sheet, featuring in more than 40 games in three of his seven seasons and at least 30 in three others.

A serious hip injury robbed him of 11 months between April 2009 and March 2010, Cooper restricted to just six appearances as Howe’s team won promotion to League One in 2009/10.

After leaving the club in 2012, Cooper had spells at Crawley, Portsmouth, Torquay and Sutton United before finally hanging up his boots in December 2017 following a brief stay with Poole Town.

He returned to Vitality Stadium as lead coach of the club’s under-13s before being elevated to the under-21s after Carl Fletcher had been appointed loan player manager in October 2018.

Cooper works with a dedicated staff including assistant Mark Molesley, analyst Sam Hall, goalkeeping coach Gareth Stewart and physio Ally Barlow.

“What I was going to do after football was always something that nagged at me,” said Cooper. “It was always at the back of my mind and it made me anxious thinking about it.

“I wasn’t the most proactive because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after football so I just carried on playing for a while.

“I think dropping into non-league actually helped me because I went part-time and realised what it was like to have time on your hands doing nothing and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

"Your brain rots and you just spend time worrying about what you’re going to do in the future.

“I did my coaching badges and enjoyed it. I started coaching on the side because I had a lot of free time.

“Alan Connell was coaching the under-12s here and I came in and watched and assisted with a couple of sessions. I really enjoyed it.

“That’s when I got in touch with Joe Roach and asked if there were any vacancies. He was brilliant.

"I met him and he got me in as a part-time coach. I took the under-13s. Alan had moved up to under-18s by then so I had his old group of players.

“I fell in love with the role immediately. I did that for a while and then a full-time position became available.

“I was still playing for Poole at the time and had definitely had enough of playing. My body was gone and it was a no-brainer to take the job.

“I was full-time with the under-13s and then, out of nowhere, Carl moved up and I got offered this job. I hadn’t seen it coming at all.

“I was fortunate enough to join a team of staff who were brilliant.

"I knew Mark Molesley because we had played together here and I knew of Phil Keehne and got on really well with him.

"Sam, Gaz and Ally all made me feel welcome and helped me out.

“As a coach, I know I’ve still got a lot to learn but I enjoy every single day working with those people and this set of players because they are a great group.

"I’m fortunate and grateful to be in this role.

“I look at myself now and think I’ve improved a lot since I came into this club and I’ve definitely got the taste for it.

“I want to continue to work to become as good a coach as I can be, not just for myself but I feel I have to be improving so I can make the players better.

“When I was younger, I felt the level of coaching and care wasn’t the greatest and I don’t want our boys to ever think that.

"I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t do all they are capable of doing to help them.”

Breaking News