Obituary: Terry Cooper, footballer

Terry Cooper, who has died at 77, scored the goal that secured Leeds United’s first major trophy win in 1968. He also played for Doncaster Rovers and Middlesbrough.

Terry Cooper

Terry Cooper, who has died at 77, scored the goal that secured Leeds United’s first major trophy win in 1968. He also played for Doncaster Rovers and Middlesbrough.

But it is his time at Elland Road for which he is most remembered. He made 351 appearances for Leeds and carved out a reputation as arguably the club’s finest left-back. He only scored a few goals in that time, but his strike against Arsenal in the 1968 League Cup final – the only goal of the game – was historic.

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Leeds followed it up with the Fairs Cup that autumn, with Cooper playing in both legs against Ferencvaros, and the 1969 league title and Charity Shield.

He made his England debut that year and would be the first-choice left-back at the 1970 World Cup. At the time, many considered him to be the best in the world at that position.

He went on to play in the 1970 FA Cup final – though he missed the 1972 and 1973 competitions with an injury – and played in both legs of the 1971 Fairs Cup final as Leeds beat Juventus on away goals.

Converted from a left-winger, Cooper retained those attacking instincts in the role he made his own. He made just 17 further appearances for the club after recovering from his broken leg and left at the end of 1974-75 to join first division Middlesbrough, managed by his old Leeds teammate Jack Charlton. He played 105 matches there before joining Bristol City in 1978. He also played for Doncaster and Bristol Rovers and managed both Bristol clubs, along with Exeter City twice and Birmingham City.

Born at Brotherton, near Selby, he had been initially signed as an amateur by Wolverhampton Wanderers. When they let him go, Don Revie at Leeds seized the opportunity. Cooper’s death follows those of five more of Revie’s stars of that era in the last 15 months: Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry, Peter Lorimer, Mick Bates and Jack Charlton.

Off the pitch, Cooper was also a businessman who owned a sports shop and a succession of post offices and newsagents in Leeds and Middlesbrough.

He and his wife, Rosemary, whom he married in 1967, had a son Mark, who was also a professional footballer, and two daughters, Rachel and Alison.