James Coppinger feels Rovers’ Johnstone’s Paint Trophy triumph in 2007 was the trigger point for their success under former boss Sean O’Driscoll.
April 1 marks 13 years to the day since Rovers beat Bristol Rovers 3-2 at the Millennium Stadium, and Coppinger looks back fondly on the day in Cardiff.
He said: “I feel like that was the beginning of the club’s success under Sean O’Driscoll, getting to the final was a big achievement but to win it made it a great day out for everybody.
“To win that, for me personally I felt like I wanted more after getting the taste for success and a year later we got promotion to the Championship.
“For someone like Neil Sullivan to win his first major trophy at the age he was, and seeing how pleased he was with it was something that really stood out for me.
“He had played in the Premier League for Wimbledon, Spurs and Chelsea but winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy still meant so much to him.”
Having raced into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Jonathan Forte and Paul Heffernan, a second-half comeback from the GAS saw the game head into extra-time with the score at 2-2.
After a further 20 minutes without a goal, and with the game seemingly heading for a penalty shootout, Coppinger’s good friend and captain at the time Graeme Lee headed home from a corner in the 110th minute to win the final for Rovers.
Coppinger added: “Going 2-0 up and then being pegged back it would have been quite easy to give it up but to go on and win it said a lot about the team we had.
“Spike was a fantastic captain and he always led by example, we all looked to him as a talisman when he was in the team.
“He’s one of the best in the air that I’ve come across so for him to get on the end of Sean Thornton’s corner was brilliant and I was delighted for him and his family.”
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