Liam Cooper

Liam David Ian Cooper (born 30 August 1991) is a professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Premier League club Leeds United and the Scotland national team.

Liam Cooper
Cooper in 2015
Personal information
Full name Liam David Ian Cooper[1]
Date of birth (1991-08-30) 30 August 1991 (age 29)[2]
Place of birth Kingston upon Hull, England
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[3]
Position(s) Centre-back
Club information
Current team
Leeds United
Number 6
Youth career
2002–2008 Hull City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2012 Hull City 11 (0)
2011Carlisle United (loan) 6 (1)
2011Huddersfield Town (loan) 4 (0)
2012–2013Chesterfield (loan) 10 (1)
2013–2014 Chesterfield 61 (4)
2014– Leeds United 207 (9)
National team
2008 Scotland U17 5 (0)
2009 Scotland U19 1 (0)
2019– Scotland 5 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:56, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23:01, 31 January 2021 (UTC)

Cooper came through the youth academy at Hull City before making his debut with the first team at the age of 16. He spent time on loan at Carlisle United and Huddersfield Town, before moving to Chesterfield in 2012. He won promotion to League One with the Spireites in 2014 before joining Leeds United later that year. He has played over 200 games for the Yorkshire club, captaining them to promotion to the Premier League in 2020.

Cooper made his senior debut for Scotland national team in 2019, having previously played for the under-17s and under-19s during his time at Hull City.

Early and personal life

Cooper was born in Kingston upon Hull and attended Malet Lambert school.[4][5] His paternal grandfather John hailed from Bo'ness in Scotland, and his father worked on the pilot boats on the River Humber where Liam's brother Joe would later join him.[6]

Growing up, his father was a West Ham United fan and would bring him to games, while the rest of his family were Hull City supporters. Liam, however, supported Leeds United.[7]

In March 2020, Cooper opened his own Football Academy for youngsters aged 4-14.[8]

Club career

Hull City

Cooper joined his hometown club Hull City in 2002 at under-12 level.[9] He was in the youth team that won the Football League Youth Alliance Cup Final against Colchester 3–0, scoring the opening goal but later being sent off for a deliberate handball.[10]

During the 2007–2008, he was given the number 37 shirt but failed to make any appearances as the Tigers went on to win promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. He made his debut as 16-year-old for the club against Swansea City in the League Cup on 26 August 2008 and featured as an unused substitute in their Premier League defeat to Wigan Athletic four days later after signing his first professional contract.[11] A year later, he would make his first Premier League start on 26 September 2009 at Anfield in a 6–1 defeat to Liverpool.[12]

Over the following three years, Cooper would find his opportunities limited at Hull and spent brief periods out on loan at Carlisle United and Huddersfield Town in 2011.[13][14] He briefly returned to the first team under Nick Barmby to form a solid partnership with James Chester in March 2012 for the rest of the season following an injury to Jack Hobbs. When Barmby departed for Steve Bruce in the summer of 2012, he was replaced by the new manager's son Alex. [15]


Cooper joined League Two side Chesterfield in November 2012. He made his debut in a 6–1 win over Hartlepool United in the FA Cup,[16] and scored on his league debut two weeks later in a 2–1 victory over Oxford United.[17] The 2012–13 season was Cooper's first year of playing regular professional football, making 31 appearances in all competitions as the Spireites narrowly missed out on a play–off spot.

The 2013–14 would prove to be a memorable campaign for both Cooper and Chesterfield under manager Paul Cook. The club reached the 2014 Football League Trophy Final and played at Wembley Stadium, but ultimately lost 1–3 to Peterborough United in front of more than 35,000 fans.[18] In the league, Cooper formed a formidable partnership with Ian Evatt as the team won the division and were promoted to League One. At the end of the season, Cooper was named in the PFA Team of the Year along with two other Chesterfield players.[19]

Leeds United

Early years and captaincy

Cooper came to the attention of his boyhood club Leeds United after impressing Sporting Director Nicola Salerno in a 2–2 preseason draw in the summer of 2014. After weeks of negotiations, Leeds agreed a deal for £600,000 plus add-ons relating to appearances, a future sale and promotion; with Cooper joining the club on 13 August.[20] After winning promotion to the Premier League in 2020, the Spireites received an additional £150,000 from the sale.[21]

He was made club captain by Neil Redfearn midway through his debut season but struggled for consistency under a succession of managers, losing his starting place to Sol Bamba and later to Pontus Jansson, as he would go on to make over 100 appearances during his first four seasons with the club. During a period of 30 games between 2017 and 2018, Cooper was sent off three times and received another six game ban for a stamp on Reading defender Reece Oxford.[22] His propensity to be a liability in games earned him the disparaging nickname 'League One Liam' among Leeds fans at the time, but Cooper remained a highly respected captain amongst his team mates.[23]

Bielsa and promotion

Cooper retained the captaincy after the shock appointment of the world renowned Marcelo Bielsa as Head Coach in the summer of 2018. In Bielsa's first game, he scored the third goal in a comprehensive 3–1 victory over promotion favourites Stoke City, as Leeds ascended to the top of the Championship by Christmas.[24] Leeds would eventually lose out on automatic promotion to Norwich City and Sheffield United as their form dipped in the second half of the 2018–2019 campaign, before losing 3–4 on aggregate to Derby County in the play-offs.[25] In spite of a disappointing end to a season that had long looked so promising, Cooper was widely perceived to be one of the most improved players in the team under the new head coach, and was included in the EFL Championship Team of the Season, EFL Team of the Season,[26] as well at the PFA's Championship Team of the Season with team mates Pontus Jansson and Pablo Hernández.[27]

The 2019–2020 marked Leeds' centenary year and Cooper's sixth season with the club. He would sign a new five year deal with the club in September, and would be present at The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 to collect the FIFA Fair Play Award on behalf of Bielsa and the Leeds United team for allowing Aston Villa to score an uncontested goal in the previous season.[28][29] On the pitch, The team's nine–point lead at Christmas in the automatic promotion zone was completely eroded by the beginning of February after a run of four defeats in five games.[30] With questions again being asked of Leeds ability to maintain the form over the course of a full season, Cooper would score a crucial equaliser in a 1–1 draw in the following game against promotion rivals Brentford.[31] It would later transpire that Cooper's son had been in hospital for three days prior to the game and there were doubts over whether he would play at all.[32] The result proved to be a catalyst for the Yorkshire club's season, as they went on to win their next five games with Cooper being part of a defence that would also keep five clean sheets, taking the team back to the summit of the table and reestablishing a seven–point lead in the automatic promotion places.[33] The momentum building around the club with only nine games remaining would be halted six days later when the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[34]

The season would resume behind closed doors three months later in June, with Leeds' five match winning run coming to an immediate end with a 0–2 defeat to Cardiff City. Leeds would only drop two further points from the remaining eight games, as Leeds secured promotion to the Premier League on 17 July after West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town beat West Bromwich Albion 2–1, and won the Championship title the following day after Brentford failed to beat Stoke City.[35] Cooper became the first Leeds United captain to win promotion since Gordon Strachan in 1990 and lifted the Championship title on 22 July after a 4–0 win over Charlton Athletic on the final day of the season, immortalising himself in the club's history.[36] He would also retain his place in the PFA Team of the Year.[37]

Premier League

Cooper missed Leeds' first Premier League game for 16 years in a 3–4 away defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season after picking up an injury. In the following match, he made his first Premier League start since September 2009 in a 4–3 win over Fulham. The period between starts at 10 years, 359 days was a league record for the greatest length of time between starts.[38] The following game against Sheffield United also marked his 200th appearance with the club and the first player to reach that number of games since Luciano Becchio in 2012.[39] Cooper joins a select group of just under 70 players[40] that have made over 200 appearances for the club, including current teammates Stuart Dallas and Kalvin Phillips who also hit the milestone later in the season.

International career

Cooper was eligible to represent England, having been born in Kingston upon Hull, and Scotland through his paternal grandfather who was born in Bo'ness, West Lothian.[41] During his time in the youth team at Hull City, he chose to represent Scotland and made his debut at under-17 level in March 2008, before going on to play for the under-19s in 2009.[42]

Cooper received his first call-up to the senior Scotland squad on 10 March 2016 for a friendly against Denmark,[43] but he would have to wait for more than three years to make his debut in a 1–2 defeat to Russia on 6 September 2019.[44] He began to feature frequently for Scotland in 2020 and played 120 minutes against Israel in the UEFA Euro 2020 play-off semi final, which Scotland won 5–3 on penalties after a 0–0 draw.[45] A muscle injury meant that he would miss the final against Serbia, which Scotland again won on penalties to qualify for Euro 2020 – their first major tournament since France 98.[46]

Career statistics

As of 3 April 2021[47]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Hull City 2008–09 Premier League 0000100010
2009–10 Premier League 2000200040
2010–11 Championship 20001030
2011–12 Championship 70200090
Total 110204000170
Carlisle United (loan) 2010–11 League One 6100001071
Huddersfield Town (loan) 2011–12 League One 4000102070
Chesterfield 2012–13 League Two 292210000313
2013–14 League Two 413100060483
2014–15 League One 1000000010
Total 715310060806
Leeds United 2014–15 Championship 2911010311
2015–16[48] Championship 3911010411
2016–17[49] Championship 1102050180
2017–18[50] Championship 3011010321
2018–19[51] Championship 363000020383
2019–20[52] Championship 3820000382
2020–21[53] Premier League 2211000231
Total 20596080202219
Career total 2971411113011033215



Leeds United



  1. "Club list of registered players: As at 19th May 2018: Leeds United" (PDF). English Football League. p. 21. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  2. "Player Profiles". Hull City A.F.C. Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  3. "Liam Cooper". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  4. "Breaking news: Cooper called up for Tigers". Hull Daily Mail. 27 August 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
  5. "Liam Cooper". City Magazine. No. 37. September 2008. p. 50.
  6. "Leeds United's Liam Cooper reaping rewards of hard graft with his arrival in Premier League". The Times. 6 September 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  7. "Player says father West Ham Fan, but he supports Leeds". BBC Sport. 22 June 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  8. Reynolds, Louis (19 December 2019). "Liam Cooper commits to project away from Leeds United ahead of 2020". Football League World. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  9. "Liam Cooper". City Magazine. No. 37. September 2008. p. 50.
  10. "City Youngsters Win Cup After 3–0 Win". Hull City A.F.C. 29 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  11. "Cooper Signs Professional Contract". Hull City A.F.C. 30 August 2008. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  12. Stevenson, Jonathan (26 September 2009). "Liverpool 6–1 Hull". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  13. "Carlisle United sign Liam Cooper and Liam Noble". BBC Sport. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  14. "Town Sign Cooper on Season Loan". Huddersfield Town F.C. 8 July 2011. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  15. "From Hull City boy wonder to Leeds United captain: How bitter rejection was the making of Liam Cooper". Hull Daily Mail. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  16. "Chesterfield 6–1 Hartlepool United". BBC Sport. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  17. "Chesterfield 2–1 Oxford United". BBC Sport. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  18. "Spireites Defeated at Wembley". Chesterfield F.C. 30 March 2014. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. "League Two Team of the Year 2014". The PFA Official Website. 27 April 2014. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. "The inside story of Liam Cooper's move to Leeds United and how Chesterfield could benefit from Whites promotion". The Derbyshire Times. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  21. "New Chesterfield FC owners "very disappointed" after missing out on six-figure sum from Liam Cooper's Leeds United Premier League promotion". The Derbyshire Times. 12 August 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  22. "Liam Cooper: Leeds United defender banned for six matches for 'stamp'". BBC Sport. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  23. "Liam Cooper exclusive: 'Before Bielsa, we accepted being mediocre. The fanbase expected it. We won't let it go back to being like that'". The Athletic. 25 December 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  24. "Leeds Impress To Beat Stoke In Opener". BBC Sport. 5 August 2018.
  25. "Derby stun Leeds to reach play-off final". BBC Sport. 15 May 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  26. "EFL Awards 2019: Shortlists revealed". EFL. 26 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  27. "EFL awards: Che Adams, Teemu Pukki & Billy Sharp on Championship shortlist". BBC Sport. 26 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  28. "Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas: Leeds United pair sign new deals". BBC Sport. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  29. "Messi, Rapinoe Crowned The Best in Milan". Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  30. "Nottingham Forest 2–0 Leeds United". BBC Sport. 8 February 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  31. "Brentford 1–1 Leeds United". BBC Sport. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  32. "Bielsa and the long-awaited return to the Premier League". Sky Sports. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  33. "Leeds United 2–0 Huddersfield". BBC Sport. 7 March 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  34. "Coronavirus: Premier League and EFL suspended in England – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland halt games". BBC Sport. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  35. "Championship: Leeds United promoted to Premier League after 16-year absence". BBC Sport. 17 July 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  36. "Leeds United 4–0 Charlton". BBC Sport. 22 July 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  37. "PFA AWARDS 2019/20". PFA. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  38. "The Premier League record Liam Cooper set in Leeds United's win over Fulham". Leeds Live. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  39. "The Premier League record Liam Cooper set in Leeds United's win over Fulham". Leeds Live. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  40. "Leeds United Club 200". LUFCTALK STATS & HISTORY. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  41. "Leeds United's Liam Cooper reaping rewards of hard graft with his arrival in Premier League". The Times. 6 September 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  42. "Yahoo UK & Ireland – Sports News | Live Scores | Results".
  43. "Scotland: Six new call-ups for Czech Republic and Denmark friendlies". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  44. "Scotland 1 Russia 2". BBC Sport. 6 September 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  45. "Scotland 0–0 Israel". BBC Sport. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  46. "Serbia 1–1 Scotland". BBC Sport. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  47. Liam Cooper at Soccerbase
  48. "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2015/2016". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  49. "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2016/2017". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  50. "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2017/2018". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  51. "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2018/2019". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  52. "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2019/2020". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  53. "Games played by Liam Cooper in 2020/2021". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  54. Anderson, John, ed. (2014). Sky Sports Football Yearbook 2014–2015. London: Headline Publishing Group. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-1-4722-1251-1.
  55. Woodcock, Ian (30 March 2014). "Chesterfield 1–3 Peterborough United". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  56. "Leeds United are champions!". Leeds United F.C. 18 July 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  57. "Luis Suarez: Liverpool striker wins PFA Player of the Year award". BBC Sport. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  58. "Championship: Norwich and Leeds dominate PFA selection of team of 2018–19". BBC Sport. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.,
  59. "PFA Player of the Year: Kevin de Bruyne and Beth England named 2020 winners". BBC Sport. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.