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Steve Cooper tipped to manage big Premier League side as former Liverpool youth star explains what gives Nottingham Forest boss ‘perfect balance’ as manager


You can bet there would have been sleepless nights at the Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest camps ahead of the Championship play-off final, with the two sides battling for that last Premier League spot for next season.

Forest boss Steve Cooper will no doubt feel the nerves, but it’s his sheer enthusiasm for football that will be the main reason he’ll struggle to turn a blind eye ahead of the Wembley showpiece – EXCLUSIVELY live on talkSPORT.

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Cooper suffered the final heartache of the play-offs last season with Swansea. He hopes to right that wrong with Forest

Such is his enthusiasm for the game, Cooper used to call players and tell them how excited he was before games when he was Liverpool academy manager, the former captain reveals Reds Under-18 team, Jordan Lussey.

“I was captain, he made me feel like a captain,” Lussey told talkSPORT.com.

“He gave me a lot of responsibility for the team, he gave me a lot of one-on-one meetings, he phoned me away from training. When I was at home, he asked me what I thought of the ideas he had.

“I remember we played against Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup semi-final and he was calling me saying he was so excited he couldn’t sleep before the game. And on that level…God knows how it would be now!

“It was the first time I encountered this kind of passion for a manager… it was just a pleasure to play for him.”

Success as a manager at youth level – including winning the World Cup with the England Under-17 side – has seen many players sit up and take notice of the man from the Welsh town of Pontypridd.


Steve Cooper tipped to manage big Premier League side as former Liverpool youth star explains what gives Nottingham Forest boss ‘perfect balance’ as manager

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Cooper earned his stripes at Anfield before achieving huge success with England

Steve Cooper tipped to manage big Premier League side as former Liverpool youth star explains what gives Nottingham Forest boss ‘perfect balance’ as manager

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He has now revitalized a Forest side that were bottom of the Championship when he took charge in September.

He also made a very smooth transition into management at senior level – taking Swansea to the play-offs during his two seasons in charge.

But it was his work with Forest that caught the eye even more, having taken charge of the side at the foot of the Championship when he first took charge. Now they are one victory away from the big moment.

Attractive playing philosophy – another of Cooper’s former players at Liverpool is said to have said ‘The Barcelona way is the Coops way’, but there are many layers to his management style.

“His management of men was up there with the best I’ve had in my career,” added Lussey.

“He made me feel special, he gave me confidence as a player and also asked me for advice. He would tell me what the game plan was and I knew just walking onto a football pitch what was going on. wanted me to do.

Steve Cooper tipped to manage big Premier League side as former Liverpool youth star explains what gives Nottingham Forest boss ‘perfect balance’ as manager

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Lussey says he was ‘gutted’ when Cooper left to join the Football Association in 2013

“The impression of Coops is that he is a good manager and a nice guy, which he is, he is one of the good guys in football. But if you don’t do the job that is asked of you, he’ll tell you.There have been quite a few hair dryer treatments from Coops where I’ve been in the locker room.

“I think he has the perfect balance of a manager who has respect and who you have to play for because if you don’t you’re going to get ab******. But also you were running through brick walls and you know he has your back.

Promotion to the Premier League would be another milestone in the 42-year-old’s promising career – but Lussey is certain there is so much more to come from Cooper.

“In the locker room, we knew he was destined for great things,” Lussey said.

Steve Cooper tipped to manage big Premier League side as former Liverpool youth star explains what gives Nottingham Forest boss ‘perfect balance’ as manager

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Getting a Forest side that looked set for Ligue 1 in the top flight would be arguably his biggest managerial achievement yet

“When he left Liverpool at the time, I remember being gutted because he thought highly of me as a player, but I knew wherever he went he would carry on.

“In my mind there is no doubt that one day he will become manager of one of the great teams in the Premier League.

“There’s no question…he’s capable of winning big trophies.”

Tune in to talkSPORT for EXCLUSIVE LIVE commentary of Huddersfield v Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-off final – Sunday 29 May – Kick off: 4.30pm BST

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