Steve Cooper watches from his apartment in Swansea Marina, savoring the view of Dylan Thomas’ ‘ugly and lovely town’ and tells a story that explains how mentally exhausting managing football can be.
“I go out at six in the morning almost every morning to run,” he says. “It’s the best race ever. Sometimes you think, “What am I doing? but as soon as you get to that lighthouse you think, “I’m fine.” Then you come back and you sweat, so I have some water and a coffee and if it’s not too cold I’m going to sit here.
Cooper, who had never made it at the senior level before becoming Swansea’s head coach 15 months ago, pushes a door and walks out. “I’m overlooking the balcony this morning and I was like ‘This is a fucking huge day’ and then I looked outside and thought ‘This is who we represent today’.”
Turning away from the sands and seas that stretch out in front of us, Cooper gazes at the rows and rows of tight terraced houses that watch over the Welsh town, its bay and the docks. He will often glance up there and think of the Swansea supporters who live on these streets. There is a huge sense of pride that he manages their club, but also a weight of responsibility. All the more so on this occasion.
The match Cooper is talking about was against bitter rivals Swansea, Cardiff City, last October. “It’s a huge game. Excited. In some ways probably too much. But it’s so important to them, ”Cooper said, nodding in the direction of those houses. “You just got that feeling in your stomach that you want to do well. It’s like a knot.
By 2 p.m. that day, it was all over.