Swansea City have hired a coach who could yet be hailed as the man who helped England win the senior World Cup, according to his former employers.
Welshman Steve Cooper, from Pontypridd, was confirmed as the Swans’ new manager on Thursday evening.
He has signed a three-year deal and replaces Graham Potter, who hot-footed it to Brighton and the Premier League after just a year in charge.
Cooper comes from the Football Association with the pedigree of already being a World Cup winner after his stunning triumph overseeing the England U17 success in 2017. Both current senior England stars Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden were part of the side that lifted the trophy.
Now, as he turns to his first senior role at club level, FA technical director Les Reed believes the influence of 39-year-old Cooper could be profound.
Speaking about Cooper’s departure from the FA, as well as that of specialist coach Mike Marsh – who will be Cooper’s No.2 at the Liberty Stadium – Reed said: “One of our key objectives is for the England senior team being ready to win the World Cup in 2022 and both Steve and Mike played a pivotal part in that – developing players and our teams as we work towards that goal.
“They both fully embraced the work being done at St. George’s Park around coaching and the player pathway and are innovative and collaborative coaches.
“Of course, their landmark moment was winning the U17 World Cup and showing that England teams can achieve great things on the international stage.”
The Swans will be hoping the son of former leading referee Keith Cooper will be able to transfer his success at age group level into his first club job in charge of a senior team.
The appointment represents a gamble for the Championship club, but a logical one as the stress has been placed on rebuilding the team with young players.
It’s a strategy that is unlikely to pay dividends in the short term but the question will remain as to whether the American owners – who got shot of Bob Bradley, Paul Clement and Carlos Carvalhal when results went awry – will show any more patience towards Cooper.
The new man himself believes his impact with the England youngsters has provided him with a solid grounding as he moves into the full glare of managership.
Under his guidance, the Young Lions won not only the 2017 U17 World Cup, but also finished runners-up in that year’s European U17 Championship.
“I take a great deal of pride in what we achieved, not just in winning the World Cup but in building a culture of success and progress,” said Cooper.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity given to me and grateful to have worked with so many fantastic people within The FA.
“There’s something special about working for The FA and it has helped shape me as a coach and I’ll never forget the great times we’ve all enjoyed.
“This opportunity is something I’ve been working towards my whole life, certainly since I started coaching 22 years ago. And I’m extremely grateful to Swansea for giving me this chance.
“I have already done a huge amount of homework on the playing style, the squad and plans for pre- season. Now I just can’t wait to get started.
“I’m going to be my own football man,’’ added Cooper. “But I know what style and quality of football the fans demand. It matches my vision perfectly.’’
Cooper is due to face the media for the first time as Swansea manager next Tuesday.