Leeds United defender Liam Cooper admits that keeping the captain’s armband under Marcelo Bielsa has been a “real honour”.
The 28-year-old has been a fantastic servant for Leeds since arriving from Chesterfield in 2014, making over 190 appearances for the West Yorkshire club.
In 2015/16, the centre-half was made vice-captain after losing the armband to Sol Bamba, but he reclaimed it in 2017/18 under Thomas Christiansen.
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Cooper has been Leeds’ captain ever since, playing an integral role under Marcelo Bielsa as the Argentine looks to guide Leeds towards a long-awaited return to the Premier League.
This season, the centre-half has made 32 appearances in the Championship, forging a solid partnership with Ben White and helping Leeds boast the best defensive record in the division.
Speaking to LUTV, Cooper has spoken about the “honour” of being Leeds captain, and was asked whether he believes he is an inspirational leader at Elland Road.
He said: “I hope people believe that. The big one for me is just trying to set an example and really embrace the role, I certainly think I’ve come into my own in the past couple of years.
“Obviously, Marcelo to give me the captaincy and give me the armband, it was, like Lucas [Radebe] has said, a real honour and one I really wanted to take with pride.”
Leeds remain on the cusp of promotion to the Premier League, sitting seven points clear of third at the top of the Championship table with only nine matches left to play this season.
Cooper is one of many players who have come up leaps and bounds and Bielsa, and he has made huge strides of improvements in recent seasons.
People talk about Ben White being a huge talent, and rightly so, but Cooper helps to gel and organise the defence, and he is a natural leader.
If Leeds go up, then keeping the likes of Cooper, Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas around the team will be vital, as they are massive characters and good people to have around the changing room.