Rovers number 26 on HIS special day in the sun.James Coppinger thanked the Doncaster Rovers fans for their support over the years ahead of his ‘testimonial’ fixture against Middlesbrough (Saturday, 3pm).
Lifelong Boro fan Coppinger (449 appearances) is entering his 12th season at the Rovers and is chasing the club’s all time appearance record held by Colin Douglas (468).
“I’ve had a fantastic 12 years here and to play Middlesbrough at the Keepmoat is something that I’ve been really looking forward to and will enjoy it,” he said.
“I want a good game and to do well because it’s my hometown club, all my family are from Middlesbrough and they’re fans so it will be great to have them here.”
Coppinger is currently the only Rovers player – past or present to have a flag in his honour inside the Keepmoat Stadium, something which he says he feels humbled by.
“I’m not one for the attention really – it’ll probably sink in more when I’ve stopped playing to be honest. It’s humbling and great that the fans can show their appreciation,” he said.
“I’d say that I feel the best I’ve ever felt in terms of the 18 or 19 pre seasons that I’ve done. Physically I feel in the best shape of my life so going in to the new season I’m looking forward to it.
“I think family lifestyle and the way I am in terms of looking after myself (is the key to longevity) and I just hope to stay injury free.”
The 34 year old – an adopted Rover after so long at the club – couldn’t hide his roots however, when he visited Wembley in May for Boro’s Championship play off final defeat to Norwich at Wembley.
“I took my two boys, and my dad and my granddad – who’s been a Boro fan for 70 years – and it was disappointing on the day but it was great for the kids, he said.
“I’ve been to Wembley three times and never seen them win but I hope I can change that one day.
“They’re organised, the manager has got them playing really well and they’ll be a tough outfit this season who will want to get promoted.”