James Coppinger believes that winning the league with the last kick of the game at Brentford is the highlight of his impressive career.
Coppinger has always been the player for the big occasions and there has never been a bigger occasion than the day he tapped the ball into an empty net at Griffin Park to secure not just promotion but the league title.
“My overriding memory is of joy and euphoria. To score that goal and go up as champions was an amazing feeling,” he said.
“To go to that final game, for it to be 0-0 – and no one was looking like scoring really, I think they hit the post and we had a great chance – then it’s the 90th minute and there’s a penalty and you think the worst.
“Obviously, Marcello Trotta steps up and hits the bar and within 30 seconds we go down the other end and score. We couldn’t have written it any better from a Doncaster Rovers point of view.”
There was famously a lot of debate about who should take the penalty for Brentford with arguing on the pitch and yelling to the bench all part of the pre-penalty preparation. While it was Fulham loanee who eventually crashed the ball against the crossbar, nine Brentford players were waiting for the follow up meaning that when Paul Quinn hooked the ball away to Billy Paynter on the half-way line, the home side were extremely short at the back.
At the Brentford Reunion event, Brian Flynn claimed that the 70-yard dash by Coppinger to catch up with his team-mate was the fasted the no.26 has ever run and that run meant that Paynter only needed to pass the ball sideways to give Coppinger one of the simplest and most important finishes of his career.
“I think that’s the first time Billy had squared it to me all season to be honest so that was good timing and it was great to score it in front of the Doncaster fans,” he added.
“Once I scored that goal, everything went blank. I ended up taking my shirt of and throwing it into the crowd and just going wild. It was an amazing moment that will be very hard to replicate, I think.
“We weren’t aware that we’d won the league until about five or ten minutes after the game but to hear that Bournemouth had drawn and we’d gone up as champions was an amazing feeling.
“It think collectively, to win the league on the last day of the season with arguably the last kick of the season, you won’t get anything better than that.”