James Coppinger recalls brilliant Sir Bobby Robson anecdote at Newcastle United

James Coppinger has revealed how Sir Bobby Robson brought him down a peg or too at Newcastle United after he made his Premier League debut.
James Coppinger.James Coppinger.
James Coppinger.

The late, great Sir Bobby – who passed away in 2009 – would have turned 86 today.

And Coppinger recalled how Robson reacted to him parking his brand-new car next to his at the club's old Chester-le-Street training ground.

Sir Bobby Robson.Sir Bobby Robson.
Sir Bobby Robson.
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The midfielder – who has spent the past 15 years at Doncaster Rovers – had only just made his first senior appearance for the club against Tottenham Hotspur at St James's Park.

However, those were to be the only 11 minutes he would ever play in the top flight.

"I thought I'd made it," said the 38-year-old, who has made more than 600 league and cup appearances for Doncaster over the past 15 years.

"I think the security guards at the training ground thought I was one of the regular first-team players, so they told me to park next to Sir Bobby's car.

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"We've gone out to warm up round the track, right next to where the cars were parked.

"Sir Bobby went 'whose car is that?'. I put my hand up and he absolutely grilled me. 'Who do you think you are? My son works in a factory nine 'til five, every single day. You've made one appearance and you think you've made it?' I was so embarrassed.

"At the time, I thought he was being harsh, but I look back now and know he was absolutely spot on."

Coppinger had joined Newcastle in 1998 in a double deal with Paul Robinson. He left for Exeter City four years later, having only made one appearance for Newcastle.

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"Three months into my YTS (Youth Training Scheme) I'm flying to Poland to play in the European Championships for England (Under-16s)," Coppinger told The Times ahead of the weekend's FA Cup tie between Doncaster and Crystal Palace.

"Joe Cole, Leon Osman, Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Peter Crouch ... we had some team – a couple of them are still going too

"Then six months into my YTS at Darlington, Newcastle and Kenny Dalglish signed me and another lad (Robinson) for £1.2million.

"I was training with Darlo's YTS one day and Newcastle's first team the next Stuart Pearce, John Barnes, Ian Rush, Warren Barton, Alan Shearer, Philippe Albert, Gary Speed; Kenny Dalglish joining in training.

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"I remember Stuart Pearce shaking my hand, gripping me, and wishing me all the best in my career. I'm sitting here 20 years later and it went like that."

Palace beat Doncaster 2-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium yesterday to book a place in the FA Cup's quarter-finals.