Dougie Arnott: Ex-Motherwell striker pays heart-warming tribute to Davie Cooper

Davie Cooper (1st right) with fellow Well 1991 Scottish Cup winners Craig Paterson and Iain FergusonDavie Cooper (1st right) with fellow Well 1991 Scottish Cup winners Craig Paterson and Iain Ferguson
Davie Cooper (1st right) with fellow Well 1991 Scottish Cup winners Craig Paterson and Iain Ferguson
Twenty-five years on from the death of wing great Davie Cooper aged 39, ex-Motherwell team-mate Dougie Arnott has paid a heart warming tribute.

Footballing genius Coop, who died on March 23, 1995 having suffered a brain haemorrhage the previous day, had been revered by Arnott and his fellow Motherwell players after signing for the Fir Parkers in summer 1989.

“We were all kind of starstruck in that dressing room when Davie came in,” Dougie told the Times and Speaker.

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“You’d watched him play for years for your country and Rangers.

Dougie Arnott battles against Rangers defender Richard GoughDougie Arnott battles against Rangers defender Richard Gough
Dougie Arnott battles against Rangers defender Richard Gough

“We couldn’t believe it that we had made a signing as big as this.

“But he was just one of the lads. He came in and he was part of the team straight away.

“There were no airs and graces. He was just a right down to earth guy, just a really nice guy to talk to.

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“It’s not just football team-mates, he was like that with everybody.

“Fans that took time to talk to him, he would spend time with them , he would blether with them.

“He was such a really nice guy for being a superstar.

“He was world class as far as I’m concerned.

“Davie would be the first to compliment you after a game.

“He would come to you and tell you how well you played.

“What that did for your confidence going into the next game!

“This man was telling you how good you were which was a real morale booster and confidence booster.”

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Dougie said that Cooper’s sensational displays for Motherwell in his first two years at Fir Park – including leading the club to the 1991 Scottish Cup – had given the wing legend “a new lease of life” after being allowed to leave Rangers by then gaffer Graeme Souness for the paltry sum of £50,000.

“He played as good football at Motherwell as he did with Rangers,” added Arnott, who famously scored twice in a 4-2 replay success over Celtic in the 1991 semi-final, a game which Cooper missed through suspension.

“I think 50 grand was just a token fee. I think that was a ‘thank you’ to Davie from Rangers that he could go away for that cheap and continue playing first team football.

“He was a great influence. When he missed that 1991 semi-final we thought it would be a great payback if we could get through to the final and that’s Davie in a Scottish Cup final.

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“Tommy (McLean, the Motherwell manager) was building a good team.

“The part that Stevie Kirk played throughout the whole cup campaign – scoring in every round – he was a big say in that too.

“It was just the confidence that Davie gave you.

“You believed in yourself, you believed in the team, you believed in your mates. That’s what Davie gave you.

“Throughout that 1990-1991 season we thought that if Davie was on that ball we had a great chance of scoring.

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“Motherwell have only won the Scottish Cup twice in their history.

“For me to be part of that along with a lot of other good players and great guys was just a great feeling.

“It’s hard to believe it’s nearly 30 years ago. To me it feels like yesterday, it never goes away.”

Despite reaching two Scottish Cup finals since (in 2011 and 2018), Motherwell have lost to Celtic on both occasions and are still searching for a follow-up piece of silverware.

“I do wish they would win it again,” Dougie said.

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“What the current side lacks to actually do it again is probably a Davie Cooper.

“Somebody that can change a game, somebody that can win a game, somebody that can control a game.

“Somebody with the skill and experience they can pass onto the team-mates, slow the game down and do something amazing that could get you a goal and win the game.

“I think Motherwell’s done well to get to a couple of finals in recent years.

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“For a small club that’s changing teams more or less every year.

“I think they’ll get there again.”

Arnott, who owns Carluke pub The Wee Thackit and works for Moor Park Travel taxi company, was a ’Well team-mate of Cooper’s until the famous number 11 left to join Clydebank in 1993.

The iconic Hamilton-born ace’s astounding impact at the Steelmen was such that he now has a Fir Park stand named after him.

“Davie’s qualities were just total skill I think,” Dougie said.

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“He was the most confident guy on that park that I ever knew.

“He never hid. He always wanted to be on the ball.

“Especially for me being a striker, he could see my runs.

“A lot of people go to football and they won’t see the runs a striker makes.

“But nine times out of 10 when you made that run Davie had that ball right in front of you.

“For me, it improved my game massively knowing you’ve got someone like that behind you, ready to just place the ball when you ran.

“He never panicked, always head up. His awareness of people round about him was unbelievable.

“He could pick passes that no other player I played with could see.”

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