Leeds United's Liam Cooper on Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and a 'bittersweet' first taste of international football

Liam Cooper made his senior international debut against Russia last Friday (Pic: Getty)
Liam Cooper made his senior international debut against Russia last Friday (Pic: Getty)
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Liam Cooper's pride at pulling on the dark blue jersey of Scotland overrides his disappointment over two chastening defeats for the Tartan Army.

The Leeds United skipper made his senior international debut at Hampden last Friday night when Russia were the visitors to Glasgow.

Cooper came up against Romelu Lukaku when Scotland took on Belgium on Monday (Pic: Getty)

Cooper came up against Romelu Lukaku when Scotland took on Belgium on Monday (Pic: Getty)

A 2-1 defeat, despite taking a 10th minute lead, was followed by a 4-0 beating by Belgium on Monday.

Cooper has waited a decade to play for the country of his grandfather.

Looking back on his first taste of international football, he admitted to mixed feelings.

"It was bittersweet really," said the 28-year-old, who penned a new long-term contract at Elland Road this week.

"Obviously I was delighted personally because I have finally made my international debut but it was against two very tough opponents, two very good teams."

The centre-half said missed chances and ruthless opposition teams took the wind out of Scotland's sails, after building a feelgood factor in the week leading up to the Russia game.

For Cooper, it was a learning experience, coming face to face with Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne - who set up three and scored the other himself - and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku.

"I wouldn't say we struggled, we just didn't get a positive result and it killed us a little bit because training all week was really good, we were confident going into the games and that's the difference at the top level, if you don't take chances then other teams do and it hurts you," he said.

"We have come up against top class opposition and the likes of De Bruyne and Lukaku and it was really hard to take but at the same time I had a valuable experience so I really enjoyed it."

For a man now accustomed to the physical demands of Marcelo Bielsa's football and training methods, Cooper was not taken aback by the intensity of the Premier-League standard players he came up against.

But there was a marked difference when it came to the ability his opposition possessed.

His hope is that this time next year, it is that kind of player he is marking week in and week out, in Leeds colours.

"The intensity is not too bad but the quality of player is different class," he said.

"The way they move, the way they use their brains, it is a different level.

"Obviously we have got to get up first but if we do then I am sure there will be a lot of analysing from the boss and everyone around and his staff and it will just be and unbelievable experience to do it with Leeds United."