Cooper: My debt to Pompey
Shaun Cooper has spoken of the debt he wants to repay Pompey after they put him on the road to a professional football career.
The 29-year-old has made two appearances since he rejoined the club on loan from Crawley Town last month.
But it’s a long association with the Blues for the Isle of Wight-raised midfielder, who first joined the youth set-up at the age of 12 and then went on to make his first-team debut under Graham Rix in 2002.
And while Cooper admits he’s feeling the same pain as the supporters after seeing Pompey reach such a low ebb, he is determined to play his part in helping them get back on their feet again.
He said: ‘There were plenty of reasons for coming back to Pompey.
‘I wanted to get out and play some games. But I grew up with this club and it has played a big part in my life.
‘I feel like I almost owe something back to this club for giving me the chance all those years ago.
‘It’s good to be back where it all started for me. It’s like coming home.
‘Regardless of where this club is at the moment, we all know it’s a great club with its fantastic history and the success it has had.
‘People need to dig in for this club and we all need to pull in the same direction. The more people who do that, the better.
‘People should understand the situation and get their heads around where this club is.’
While Pompey look to be heading for relegation and League Two football next season, Cooper is well aware there are bigger issues that need to be addressed off the pitch to ensure the Blues survive.
‘The club has got to get itself sorted on the other side of things – that’s the most important thing for the supporters,’ said Cooper.
‘Most of them just want to know that they do actually have a club to support.
‘But as players, we will contribute as much as we can with performances and results. We will try our best to stay up.
‘Ultimately, though, the club has got to sort itself out and then hopefully rebuild.’
The former Bournemouth man knows the spectre of relegation is becoming increasingly hard to avoid.
Cooper said: ‘We are all realistic. We read the papers and we see the league table so we’re not stupid.
‘We are aware that relegation is the likely outcome because there is a 10-point deduction still to come.
‘But while we can still put up a fight – and there is still a mathematical chance – then we’ll give it everything.
‘We are having a really good go at it. There is a lot of personal pride at stake, as well as the club’s situation and status in the league.
‘You can see the confidence is down but the spirit is still there and the lads are trying to remain positive.
‘We have to dig in and keep going.’