Leeds United captain Liam Cooper's decade of belief could finally yield international reward when Scotland take on Russia
Liam Cooper has spent the last decade holding fast to a belief that he’s good enough for international football.
The Leeds United captain could make his Scotland debut on Friday night after two previous senior call-ups yielded nothing more than time sitting on the bench.
Cooper, who was an unused substitute for games in March 2016 and March 2017, is part of Steve Clarke’s squad for a pair of testing Euro 2020 Qualifiers.
The Scots take on Russia on Friday and Belgium on Monday and Cooper – who last played for his country in an Under-19s game – feels like he belongs in the squad, at that level of football.
“I’ve always believed I would get back into the set-up,” he said.
“I’m very confident in my ability, I think my game suits international football.
“In the back of my head I was always confident of stepping up to represent my country.”
The Hull-born centre-back, who qualifies through a Scottish grandfather, bears no grudges against the national team bosses who didn’t pick him.
He admits injuries may have played a part in how long it took to get back in the international picture and credits the form he’s shown at Leeds under head coach Marcelo Bielsa for attracting Clarke’s attention.
“Every manager has their reasons for not picking you; maybe I wasn’t quite ready the last times I was called up.
“And maybe I would have been back in sooner if it hadn’t been for niggly injuries last year.
“These things happen, that’s football.
“I don’t think you can get too downhearted. I have started to perform better and more consistently over the past few seasons.
“You just have to concentrate on yourself.
“I feel as if I have come into my own over the past two years under Marcelo [Bielsa].
“If you are doing well at club level then eventually you will get recognised for your country.
“I’ve got the call-up now so I’m just delighted.
“It is always an honour to represent your country.”