'It's life-changing', Liam Cooper relishing chance to take Leeds United 'back where we belong'

LIAM COOPER says he is more motivated than ever to captain Leeds United to a return to the Premier League and for the current squad to be remembered at Elland Road forever.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 31st May 2020, 12:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st May 2020, 12:20 pm

Championship front-runners Leeds have not kicked a ball competitively since the 2-0 victory against Huddersfield Town on Elland Road on March 7, after which the English football season soon became suspended in the country's fight against coronavirus.

For Cooper and Leeds, that has meant nearly three months of uncertainty since but after ten weeks of training at home, United finally returned to tailored training at Thorp Arch last week adhering to strict social distancing rules.

The EFL are still hoping to play all of their remaining Championship fixtures behind closed doors by the end of July and boyhood Whites fan Cooper is champing at the bit at the prospect of completing United's promotion quest.

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FIRED UP: Leeds United captain Liam Cooper is as motivated as he has ever been to take his side back to the top flight for the first time since 2004. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

"I'm as motivated as I have ever been in my life," Cooper told the YEP.

"I've said a few times in previous press conferences and stuff like that, it is life changing.

"As a boy you always dream of playing for your club and taking them to the Premier League, never mind being able to do it as captain of the club.

"It would be unbelievable to get the club back to where we belong, back in the top flight where we have always belonged.

"It's been a tough 15, 16 years, as a fan as well, but to have a chance to be able to go and do this is unbelievable.

"It's been a bit strange over the last eight or nine weeks or whatever it has been.

"It has been difficult and you do have a lot of time to sit and reflect and think about things.

"But the aim has never changed, we are on the brink of something very special.

"Hopefully we can deliver that and be remembered at this club forever."

Leeds are now waiting on news from the EFL with regards to a potential date as to when Championship fixtures can resume.

Action in the Premier League will restart on Wednesday, June 17 and the EFL had been looking at the following weekend as a possible starting point.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has previously stated how the EFL season needs to be concluded by the end of July due to contract issues.

United have nine games left with Marcelo Bielsa's side top of the Championship - one point ahead of second-placed West Brom - and holding a seven-point cushion in the division's automatic promotion spots over third-placed Fulham.

Should the remainder of the season be curtailed, the EFL would propose that Leeds would be crowned champions via their selected unweighted points per game model with the EFL wanting promotion and relegation to be maintained.

The EFL will hold a meeting with its clubs next Monday to consider their suggested framework for settling the season if required via such a method with a view to approving those proposals.

The Championship season would also be curtailed if 51 per cent of its clubs voted for curtailment but the EFL say that Championship clubs have advised of their intentions to resume fixtures.

But those fixtures will have to be played behind closed doors with Cooper sad that Leeds have already been denied what could have been an end of season promotion party in front of their own fans.

United's final game of the season - at home to Charlton Athletic - was due to take place on Saturday, May 2,

“It was very difficult,” said Cooper.

“It was really tough. It sort of felt like it had been stolen from us a little bit.

“That could have been our day and our moment to enjoy it with the fans and our families.

"We’ve so sacrificed so much, but we’re going to have to sacrifice more, sacrifice playing in front of our fans, sacrifice our families being able to watch us.

"The goal never changes. First and foremost we set out to be promoted and get back to the Premier League and that’s still our objective.

"We’ve got to go and finish that.”