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Forgotten Black Cats: Kevin Cooper

Journeyman Kevin Cooper came in on a three-month loan deal from Wolves in January 2004 in order to aid Mick McCarthy's promotion push, one which was ultimately unsuccessful. Remember him?

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I've watched Sunderland's progress this season - you tend to keep an eye on the bigger clubs - and they have picked up recently. Now seems a good time to be joining. I knew the Stadium of Light was fantastic because I've played here before. I cannot wait to do so again.

The now retired English midfielder never actually appeared at the Stadium of Light. Not even for a single minute.

The January acquisition of Cooper was quite frankly the most forgotten of all of Mick McCarthy’s strange transfers that season. You could make a list of players he brought to the club that year that, when signed, provoked a bemused reaction. Simon Johnson, Alan Quinn and Mark Lynch are other names that also spring to mind.

But of the entire set of players he did bring to the club that season, the former Stockport man Cooper came with a pedigree - he was a Premier League squad player and had a Championship winners medal to his name.

He had featured on a fairly regular basis in Wolves promotion the season but found opportunities limited once in the Premier League, with only one appearance being registered.

Mad Mick said of his signing:

Kevin showed his commitment to the club by travelling up here on New Year's Day so that we could have a good look at him. It showed that he has a very good attitude and demonstrated how much he wants to play.

Aww, bless him.

However, playing was not something he got a chance to do. His only appearance for the Lads came in a 2-1 defeat at Millwall. Coming on for Kevin Kyle in the 77th minute, he was tasked with giving some ammunition to the likes of Tommy Smith to help us get back into a game where former Niall Quinn deputy Danny Dichio put us to the sword after taking a first half lead through Marcus Stewart. He didn’t though, barely managing a touch of the ball as we dropped to fouth place in the league.

After the game, when asked by the press, McCarthy pleaded with the fans not to compare the loan signing of Kevin Cooper to Stewart Downing, after the latter’s supreme success had came only months before hand. Eventually, it turned out to be the performances of Julio Arca - who was in the form of his life - which stopped him featuring in the side. Eventually this forced him to cut short the loan in the hope of finding a solution for his stuttering season.

Cooper eventually was signed on loan by Nigel Worthington at Norwich City only a month later, where he went on to play the final ten games of the season and help the Canaries to automatic promotion, whilst we lost out in the play offs on penalties. I guess he got the last laugh.

The one game wonder had a successful managerial spell at Swiss second tier club Servette Geneva, where he guided them to a second place finish, before financial issues saw them demoted to the third tier.

So in summary, despite only playing one game for the club Kevin Cooper has Sunderland written all over him - signed to help the team win promotion automatically to the Premier League after doing so the season before with another club, only playing one game and leaving to join a team who did exactly what we were looking to do.

There’s nothing more Sunderland AFC than that.