Alan Shearer leads tributes as former Newcastle United midfielder retires aged 40

Alan Shearer has led the tributes after James Coppinger hung up his boots.
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Coppinger – who started his professional career at Newcastle United with Shearer – played his 695th and final game for Doncaster Rovers yesterday.

The midfielder has spent the past 17 years at the League One club, which was beaten 4-1 by promoted Peterborough United yesterday. Coppinger took the captain’s armband at the Keepmoat Stadium, and was also given a guard of honour by the opposition.

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“An emotional and special day from start to finish,” tweeted Coppinger, who joined Newcastle in 1998 aged 17. “Thank you so much to all the fans, players, managers, friends and family for all the kind messages. My final season in professional football is over, thank you for the memories, they will stay with me forever.”

Coppinger will now take up a new role at Doncaster.

Reflecting on his time at the club in an interview with the Free Press, Coppinger said: “It’s an emotional thing. I’ve done this since I left school at 16, so for it to end, I don’t mind getting emotional.

“It’s not something you can switch on and off. It’s tough. It’s been my life for so long and I don’t really talk about the end and what it’s going to look like or feel like.

“When you start talking about it and envisaging it, it’s tough, as much as I’m excited about the next stage.”

Shearer was on the field when Coppinger made his only senior appearance for United against Tottenham Hotspur in the 2000/01 campaign. Shearer tweeted: “Congratulations on a brilliant career.”