The night Joe will never forget
Joe Cooper admitted life couldn’t be any sweeter.
Less than a fortnight after being offered a professional contract by Latics, the 18-year-old from Springhead was handed his first-team debut.
Former Saddleworth School pupil Joe, who is usually a central defender, made his bow at right back in last night's npower League One fixture at Shrewsbury Town which Latics lost 1-0.
Despite the defeat, it was still a memorable night for Cooper who said: "It was a great experience to play and to make my League debut. It is something I will never forget and I loved everything which came with it.
"I have had a taste and now want to kick on and play more games. I will be doing a lot of fitness work in the summer so I am in good shape when I report back for pre-season training.”
Usually the players are told the team the day before the game, but this did not happen for Cooper.
He said: "I knew I was in the squad but was only told I was playing when we arrived at the hotel for our pre-match meal.
"It was probably done to prevent me having too long to think about playing and to become nervous."
As for the game Cooper, who joined Latics’ Centre of Excellence at the age of 10, he explained the pace was a lot quicker than youth and reserve-team football.
"I was taking a touch and thinking I had the time, but had to do things much quicker than I am used to. I got used to it as the game went on, though I tired in the second half," he explained.
Cooper, who was raised only a few streets away from former Latics' favourite Chris Taylor, was also up against livewire winger Jon Taylor.
"It was quite a test because he is a little whippet but it was a challenge I enjoyed," he said.
Cooper's debut was watched by his proud father John. Mother Amanda would have loved to be at Greenhous Meadow with younger brothers Luke and Will, but couldn’t attend as Will was at home preparing for a SATS exam at school.