Ollie Cooper hoping for Wales debut against ‘incredible’ Luka Modric
Swansea midfielder Ollie Cooper says “incredible footballer” Luka Modric has inspired him but insisted he would not be daunted should he make his Wales debut against the Croatia star.
Cooper could cap a rapid rise on Saturday when Wales start their Euro 2024 qualification campaign against the World Cup semi-finalists in Split.
“Modric just makes the game look easy, he keeps it ticking and dictates the game,” Cooper said of Real Madrid’s five-times Champions League winner and the 2018 Ballon d’Or recipient.
“He is an incredible footballer and definitely an inspiration to me.
“He’s not a big player and I kind of base the way I want to play off players similar to me, but he has such a presence on the pitch.
“If I get a chance to play against Modric and (Mateo) Kovacic then I just want to show what I can do.
“That’s where I aspire to be and to play against them would be amazing.”
Even more so when you consider how far Cooper has come in such a short space of time.
After an impressive season on loan at League Two Newport, Cooper started this campaign on the Swansea bench and had to wait until the club’s fifth league game for a taste of Championship action.
However, the 23-year-old quickly made himself a fans’ favourite with goals against Sunderland, Reading and Cardiff in becoming an integral part of Russell Martin’s side.
So quick was his progress that he was put on Wales’ World Cup list of stand-by players in November and trained with Rob Page’s squad in Qatar.
Cooper said: “It was just an amazing experience. Going over there, meeting the players, training with everyone without the pressure of games.
“It allowed me to relax and enjoy it, but this is a massive moment for me now. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time.
“To finally get the call-up to be in the squad is really exciting.”
Cooper arrives on the international scene just as his Swansea colleague Joe Allen steps away from it.
Allen won 74 caps and was a mainstay of the Wales midfield for over a decade.
“Joe’s been a massive influence on me,” said Cooper, whose father Kevin made nearly 400 career appearances and counted Cardiff, Stockport and Wolves among the clubs he played for.
“I remember the first game playing with him, I was just in awe. In training every day I’m just so lucky to be with him.
“Unfortunately I’m not going to get the chance to play with him with Wales, but he’s someone I can always talk to and ask for advice.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.