After putting pen to paper with English League One outfit Oxford United, the now former Linfield winger Joel Cooper has been reflecting with Linfieldfc.com on his two successful years at Windsor Park in which he scored 21 goals and provided 29 assists
“Looking back, winning the first title was probably my favourite moment. The team had a poor season previous to when I arrived and it was great for us all to bounce back by winning the title, against the odds.
“To win two titles and the League Cup in two years, it couldn’t have gone much better for me at Linfield and I really enjoyed my time at Windsor. I have a lot of people to thank; the players were brilliant, as well as the staff, the manager was excellent with me and all the fans really stuck by me when things were tough. I leave with so many fond memories of Linfield.
“We played attacking football under David (Healy), that’s what he wants from his Linfield teams. He wants to take the game to teams which suited me and the other players in the team and it is exciting for everyone. David was brilliant with me and I have a lot to thank him for.”
Joel arrived in the summer of 2018 after signing a pre-contract agreement with Linfield, leaving Glenavon with whom he won the Irish Cup and spent three seasons with, having joined them in 2015 from his local Club, Ballyclare Comrades. The 24 year-old says he’ll miss the feeling of pulling on the blue shirt but will now support the club from across the water.
“I am going to miss walking out at Windsor with that Linfield shirt on and the good reception that the fans give you when you’re coming out. I want to say thanks to the fans for the good times and sticking with us through the bad times. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to play for Linfield and once again I want to thank the staff and the Board for dealing with this move so brilliantly, and I have nothing but good things to say about the Club.
“I am leaving a great squad of players with many great footballers at Linfield and I’ll definitely be watching from England and keeping track of the scores and hopefully, we can celebrate another title next season. If Linfield are on TV or if I get a chance to get back, you can be sure that I’ll be watching and supporting.”
The mercurial winger joins a team which narrowly missed out on promotion to the English Championship, having lost the play-off final to Wycombe Wanderers – incidentally, the Club where Paul Smyth – another former Linfield star who earned a move to England - was on loan with.
‘The Yellows’ are developing quite a connection with the Irish League, having signed Gavin Whyte from Crusaders before he moved on to Cardiff City, as well as midfielder Mark Sykes who signed from Glenavon and has impressed the Oxford faithful this season. Cooper will link up with Sykes who he played with at Glenavon and believes having his former teammate there can only be beneficial.
“I’m buzzing to get started with Oxford now. It’s two weeks until pre-season starts, so that gives me time to get settled and relaxed and hopefully, I can hit the ground running. Mark Sykes is here at Oxford, we played together at Glenavon, so it’s great to have him here; someone I already have a friendship with.
“I have done a lot of hard work to get here but the hard work is just beginning. I just want to give it everything I have and be able to say I’ve done everything possible to better myself as a player.”
Everyone associated with Linfield will wish Joel every success for the future and like with Paul Smyth, will keep a close eye on his progress. Thanks for the memories, Joel.