|Date of Birth:|| 24/11/1963|
Hartlepool United sprung a major surprise by confirming Neale Cooper as their new manager following the exit of Mike Newell at the end of the 2002-03 season.
Former Cheltenham Town boss Steve Cotterill had been favourite to take over in the hot-seat, but former Rangers, Dunfermline and Aberdeen player Cooper got the nod.
Martin Scott, the youth team coach, was confirmed as Cooper's assistant at the newly-promoted Nationwide Division Two outfit.
Cooper was unveiled by the club on June 26th 2002, succeeding Newell at Victoria Park. The former Blackburn striker led the club to promotion into Division Two in the 2002/03 season after taking the reins from Chris Turner, but did not have his contract renewed by Hartlepool, who believed they needed someone with more experience to take the club forward.
Cooper was manager at Ross County and led the club to successive promotions from the Scottish Third Division to Division One. However, he stepped down from his role at Ross County in November 2002 after a run of just one win in 11 games.
He has an impressive haul of medals from his days as a player when he turned out for Aberdeen, Aston Villa (as pictured), Rangers, Reading and Dunfermline.
He helped Aberdeen win the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup under present Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
And Cooper is hoping some of the attributes he learned from Ferguson will stand him in good stead.
"His management skills were second to none as in players to be watched, training, his ideas on the game - everything was prepared well for you, and I think those things, you always remember," said Cooper.
"Hopefully, I've taken a lot from him, training ideas and the way we try to play."
He added: "I've phoned him at certain times maybe when there were things I wanted to query when I was managing in Scotland. The few points he did pass over were very helpful at the time.
"When I finished at Ross County, he invited me down to Manchester to work with him for a week, and that was a magic week.
"To watch him, he still has the same enthusiasm for the game and, hopefully, I can bring that to this club.
"Football doesn't change a lot, and a lot of things that Fergie did at Aberdeen, he still does."
In his 20-year playing career Cooper won no fewer than three Scottish League titles, four Scottish Cups, two League Cups, a European Cup Winner's Cup and a Super Cup. He has also played under managers such as Graham Taylor, Graeme Souness, Walter Smith and of course Fergie.
He has been in the company of greats and the experience passed onto Cooper will undoubtedly help him as he takes over his first club south of the border.
The tough Scotsman started his career at King Street back in 1978 as a trainee, after moving back to Scotland from his birthplace Darjeeling, India. Following a year at King Street he moved to Aberdeen for his first of two spells at the club. He enjoyed seven good years at the club and built his reputation as hard-man, a quality his then manager Ferguson values.
After much success at Pittodrie he decided it was time for a change and moved across the boarder to join Taylor's Aston Villa. His time at Villa Park was a good experience but he opted to move back north of the border after a couple of years, joining the Glasgow giants, Rangers.
Two years at Ibrox was enough for Cooper who agreed to a second spell at Aberdeen, where he spent just one season.
He then had a brief spell at Reading before moving to Dunfermline where he made over 100 appearances. Cooper decided to hang his boots up in 1998 after making one appearance as a substitute for Ross County, who he went on to manage.
(info as at 01/10/03)
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