Jeff Stelling has paid a heartfelt tribute to Neale Cooper as the footballing world prepares to say goodbye to the former Pools boss.
Cooper tragically passed away last Monday aged just 54 and he will be laid to rest in a private family funeral on Friday afternoon in Aberdeen.
A Celebration of the Life of Neale Cooper will also be held on Friday evening at his beloved Pittodrie, home of Aberdeen and the club where Neale kicked-off a hugely successful playing career.
“In truth, I didn’t see Neale that often but we spoke on the phone quite a lot,” Stelling explained.
“I do remember the first time I met him we took a camera crew to the hotel in London where the team were staying to do an interview with him.
“I had heard about his reputation for doing a Sir Alex Ferguson impression so, not knowing him at all, the first thing I asked him was if he would do it – and he refused point blank, in the nicest possible way, of course.
“Tattie was the sort of guy who just couldn’t help himself though – and five minutes later he was in full, fluent Fergie mode and that was just the sort of fella he was. He so full of fun and full of life.”
Cooper presided over some of the most successful years in the Club’s history and the results he produced at League One level mean that he will forever be held in high regard by Pools fans.
“In his first spell his record was absolutely brilliant,” said Stelling.
“If you look at his win ratio it was nearly 44% and that takes some doing – and we were at a higher level as well so to achieve that was superb.
“He had a better win rate than Cloughie – and we all know what he went on to do!
“It’s just a terrible shock and a terrible loss. I just hope people in the football world know that he wasn’t just loved in Aberdeen but that he was loved in Hartlepool as well because Hartlepool was his second home.
“Everyone will miss him. It’s just inexplicable and heart-breaking.”