Cooper's Road to 50
At just 21-years-old, Academy graduate goalkeeper Michael Cooper reached a milestone of 50 appearances during the Greens’ Sky Bet League One victory over Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
Cooper, who has been in the youth system at Home Park since the tender age of nine, put in an assured display to ensure he marked the occasion with a clean sheet in the South West clash.
He said: “To make my 50th appearance for my club is a great feeling and to come away with a big three points and a clean sheet was a really good day at the office."
Mike is the second Argyle Academy graduate to reach the 50 appearances milestone this season, following closely behind his contemporary Luke Jephcott, who played alongside him in the Greens’ FA Youth Cup run of 2017/18, where they took the scalp of Premier League giants Manchester City en route to the round of 16.
‘Coops’ had already made his first team bow two months prior to the shoot-out victory over City at Home Park, though, bursting onto the scene in dramatic circumstances as a second-half substitute against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in October 2017.
Still a scholar at the time, Cooper deputised for injured goalkeeper Kyle Letheren with the game poised at 1-1, and put in a performance that belied his 18 years to keep a second-half clean sheet. It has been a patient wait for Mike since that adrenaline-filled night in Lancashire, but he has firmly repaid the faith shown in him by manager Ryan Lowe with a number of impressive displays this season.
He said: “I’ve started off as a boy and I’ve started to progress into a man a lot more - but I’ve still got a long way to go. If I think back to that night in Blackburn, I do feel like I’ve come a long way.”
“I’ve got a lot of love for the club. I’ve been here since I was nine. I’ve got strong ties with Argyle and it’s been my home since a young age, and I’m really grateful to be given the opportunities to keep playing and keep representing the team.”
Save for the odd cup and substitute appearance in previous campaigns, all of Mike’s first team minutes have been recorded this season, and he is pleased with the progress he’s made since the opening day victory over Blackpool.
He said: “I’ve learnt so much since the first game of the league through to the current day - it’s crazy. With the amount of changes made to my game and improvements I’ve made, I want to carry what I’ve learnt throughout the rest of the season.”
“To make 50 matches as early as I have done is a real positive for me. I hope that as the years go by, I keep racking up the games as get as much experience as I can by the time I’m 24/25.”
Upon reaching the milestone, the Pilgrims’ Academy graduate admitted that it was a bittersweet feeling, being unable to celebrate a landmark occasion with family, friends, and the Green Army in the stands.
“It would have been amazing to share my 50th appearance with the supporters, filling up the stands and rooting us on. On a Bristol Rovers home game, the fan support would have been great.”
Congratulations Mike, here’s to many more.