Pat Nevin earned more caps for his country than Davie Cooper, but admits he wished he could play like his fellow winger.
Last Monday (March 23) marked the 20th anniversary of Cooper’s tragic death, passing away after suffering a brain haemorrhage while recording a coaching video at Broadwood Stadium.
During a long career with Clydebank and Rangers, Cooper earned the admiration of fellow players, fans and rival supporters alike and in his latter career become truly synonymous with Motherwell after helping them win the Scottish Cup in 1991.
Among his biggest fans is Nevin, who ended his playing days at ’Well following a fine career on both sides of the border.
He said: “We never met a great deal, but I can remember watching him and thinking ‘yeah I like that, I want to try those moves’.
“Anyone I watched that I admired, I would just to try and learn every trick they did, but some guys there are just no point in trying because you can’t do it.
“There was no point in me trying to learn those free kicks, as you have to have this natural way of moving your body, and it was stunning.
“I just admired him as a footballer.”
After two years as a player at ’Well Nevin decided to hang up his boots, but in a surprise move stayed at Fir Park as he was appointed chief executive by owner John Boyle.
As well as the loss of Cooper from the Motherwell family he also reminisced about other sad occasions such as the death of his friend Phil O’Donnell in 2007 from a heart condition.
A minute’s silence has been observed at Fir Park in the first home game after Christmas for the last seven years to honour the former club captain.
Nevin said: “In all my time in Scottish football I can’t remember a bad word said about Phil O’Donnell and that speaks volumes considering what is usually said about footballers.
“If a player ever deserved a Indian summer in his career it was Phil and he was having that at Motherwell - they were having a great time.
“He was club captain and making the very best of it. It was terribly tragic because he really deserved that period of happiness and success at Motherwell.”
Nevin has been heavily involved with heart foundation charities and during his time in charge at ’Well tried to change health care within Scottish football.
He said: “When I moved up to Motherwell I asked who did the heart screening and got told ‘we do not do that up here’.
“I was stunned and once I became chief executive I said ‘well we do now, that gets done’.
“I told the SFA to bring it in and that they should pay for it, but got told they couldn’t afford it.
“I responded by saying ‘okay I’ll blame you when one of our players dies then’. It was a grossly sad thing.”
Despite the plans to implement heart screening in Scottish football in 1998, it sadly became too late for former youth player Andy Thomson who tragically passed away from a heart condition at 19 years of age.
When Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba collapsed at White Hart Lane in February 2012, following a heart attack which stopped his life for 78 minutes, it prompted health care to be seriously implemented within sport.
Nevin now believes health care within Scottish football has changed dramatically over the years.
“He said: “I’m glad ’Well led the way to improve the health image of football in Scotland and grateful it still happens to this day in this country.
“Everyone you lose hurts and you think is there anything you could have done, and I may have thought that with Davie.
“He is still sadly missed.”
Nevin was speaking during a visit to Glasgow Caledonian University where he earned an art degree.