A TRULY gifted player and an even better human being – that’s how Ally McCoist remembers his former teammate and close friend Davie Cooper.
McCoist and Mark Hateley were in Hamilton this afternoon as they laid a tribute at Cooper’s statue in his hometown to mark the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of one of Scotland’s most talented-ever players.
“I can’t believe that is 25 years since we lost Davie,” McCoist said. “There are always a lot of nice things that get said about people when they pass away but I think you can see the honest feelings and tributes to Davie that are coming from all over the world.
“He certainly was one of, if not the most gifted footballer that I was fortunate enough to play with.
“I keep telling my boys, he didn’t have a right foot, he couldn’t head the ball, he couldn’t tackle, he wasn’t the quickest either but easily one of the best players I have ever seen and had the privilege to play with.”
McCoist has been sharing some of his favourite memories of Cooper with his family, and says his strike beyond Jim Leighton in the League Cup Final in October 1987 is one he will never forget.
“There are so many great memories,” he explained. “The other night we were just sitting watching some of the old videos and I was showing the boys.
“Still to this day it is the hardest shot I have ever seen on a football park the one against Aberdeen. Big Jim Leighton, to be fair to him he dived but I think it was after the ball hit the net but he was a truly gifted player and an even better human being.”
Striking up a partnership on and off the park – McCoist said Cooper was a dream to play with.
He continued: “I reckon between he must’ve set up about 50 percent of my goals – he was a genius.
“He was one of these players that you knew that if you made a run of any sort of description he would see it and he would find you if it was on.
“His left foot has been described as a wand and that is exactly what it was, he had tremendous vision and selfishly from my point of view, he was an absolute dream to play with.
“I was very fortunate to call Davie a friend and I used to pick him up in the mornings. I would come down from East Kilbride, pick him up in Hamilton and we would go to a place up in Charing Cross for a coffee and a bit of toast.
“I’d probably get him into training for quarter to 11 for a 10 o’clock start! That was the normal, I used to drive him absolutely potty.
“We had some great times together. We used to socialise together with maybe a day at the races and a game of snooker and things like that so they are wonderful memories.”
After 12 years at Ibrox, Cooper moved to Motherwell in 1989 where he continued to show his incredible talent.
McCoist said: “We have a group going with a lot of my pals from school, and there’s two or three Motherwell supporters in among it.
“They were just saying that Davie is the greatest player they have ever seen in a Motherwell jersey, and that is echoed by a lot of the Motherwell support.
“The argument would probably follow on that he was allowed to leave too quickly but I think to be fair to Graeme Souness at that time Davie wanted to play every week.
“There were big changes at our club at that particular time and nobody was guaranteed a place so Davie chose to move nearer home and was a legend there as well.
“He has never been forgotten and it is absolutely wonderful.
“You think time in many ways is a great healer but it also puts a distance between things but I think the fact that everyone is talking about Davie 25 years after his tragic early passing would indicate how special he was – as I said not only as a football player but more importantly as a human being and as a person.”