Cooper fired up by Leeds link in quest for debut cap
“All over Elland Road. There are a lot of pictures of other Scots”
Defender Liam Cooper can gain plenty of inspiration from his club Leeds United to help him perform for Scotland.
Cooper has yet to win his first cap for the Scots but has intermittently been involved since earning his first call-up for a 1-0 friendly win at home to Denmark in March 2016.
The 26-year-old was born in Hull but qualifies to play for Scotland through his grandfather.
Cooper does not have to look far for Scottish influence at Leeds, where national team manager Gordon Strachan enjoys legendary status due to his success as a player.
Another Scottish inspiration of Cooper’s is Eddie Gray, who is a club ambassador having spent his entire playing career at Elland Road, and also had spells as manager and youth coach of the Yorkshire outfit.
Cooper has been selected for this week’s doubleheader against Slovakia and Slovenia, with two wins needed to secure a place in the World Cup qualifying play-offs, and he is eager to return to the English Championship club boasting of success with his country.
He said: “The manager alone is all over Elland Road. There are a lot of pictures of other Scots. If I can follow in their footsteps that would be amazing but I’m just focusing on myself at the minute and hopefully pushing forward.
“Eddie Gray is at a lot of the games. I went to the Sheffield Wednesday game yesterday, which I was suspended for, and spoke with him.
“He’s always asking about all the lads here. He told me how important this game is. We all know that.
“He was on to me right away about how important this game is for Scotland.
“If I can go back there knowing we’ve got a playoff spot that would be unbelievable.”
Cooper is competing with Christophe Berra, Grant Hanley and Charlie Mulgrew for a starting berth against Slovakia at Hampden on Thursday, prior to Sunday’s final group match against Slovenia in Ljubljana.
Cooper is eager to stake his claim, adding: “They are established at this level. They’ve all played a lot of games at this level and have proven themselves.
“Obviously, I’ve come into the squad and hopefully I can push those lads to perform better.”