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Joe Harper on Neale Cooper

May 29, 2018 6:38 pm Author: AFC Media Team

An emotional Joe Harper has paid tribute to his close friend Neale Cooper:

“The Aberdeen family have lost a big part of their life. Neale Cooper was a such a wonderful young man from the first day I met him. He was 13 years of age when he came to Pittodrie and wanted to be a ball boy. His parents had asked him if he could train with the first team or the reserves. We let him train with us and you could see then he was a talented young guy football wise and had this lovely big flowing blonde hair. He went on to prove it. When he was on the ground staff he’d put out our jerseys and my jersey especially along with Andy Dornan’s. They were my two boys and we had some really good laughs at that time.

“Tattie was the sort of person that epitomised that team. He showed exactly what that team was all about with the spirit, fighting power, ambition and dedication they had, not to let anybody down. I know Alex Ferguson sailed the ship when they won it [the Cup Winners Cup], but you’ve got to hand a lot of praise to Ally MacLeod and Billy McNeil as well because they were two really nice people who gave these kids the right background in what they should be doing. As a young kid his parents and his family were fantastic and they brought him up the right way- that you should respect older people and stand up to let a lady sit down etc. He became a hero for Gothenburg, but Neale Cooper would have been a hero with Aberdeen anyway with the attitude and the way he played the game.

“It wasn’t just coming here to Pittodrie, I just loved coming and speaking to him every Saturday when we were in there together. Me, him and Craig Brown used to have a really good laugh, but even before that I did a lot of after dinner speaking with him.

“A really really nice boy and I treated him like a son. He was more like a son to me than he was a friend. He would phone me up and ask certain thing whenever he needed to. I went down to Hartlepool to watch him when he was manager there and up to Ross County and Peterhead when he was manager there. We followed each other. I followed him about and I think that’s why we bonded really well.

“I remember Derek “Cup-tie” McKay of the 1970’s and Derek and Neale were very similar. They were lovable rogues and rogues in the nicest possible way. They would take your shoes and throw them in the bath or hang your socks outside the stadium. They were always up to tricks, but they were really good kids and they both had the same attitude towards the fans. If there was 40 people standing outside Pittodrie Neale would sign 40 autographs and get 40 pictures taken. He wouldn’t be rushing away anywhere and that’s the way professional footballers should handle themselves. He done that magnificently.”

To watch the full interview with Joe on RedTV please click on the red button

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