Pitch perfect

A winner of four all-Ireland senior titles and seven All Stars awards, Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper, is considered one of the greatest football players of his generation.

The 29-year-old, from Killarney, Co Kerry, is a bank official for AIB, is single and says work and football don’t leave him time for much else.

He’s the youngest in a family of seven. “I’m the baby. I want to say ‘no, I wasn’t spoiled’, but probably that’s a lie.”

Colm is a brand ambassador for Opel Ireland’s 2012 ‘Kit for Clubs’ initiative, which encourages GAA fans to collect points to earn free sports kit and equipment for their local GAA club. For more info, visit www.opelkitforclubs.com.

What shape are you in?

I’m in pretty good shape. The hardest thing for me is when I pick up injuries and have to miss out on training and am behind everybody else. Thankfully, I’ve been able to recover well from injury. Training-wise, the schedule’s fairly demanding: I’m on the pitch two nights, at the pool one night and in the gym another night.

Do you have any health concerns?

My body’s in great working order. I had an operation on my groin in 2003 and on my eye in 2010. The eye was more serious, but the operation went fantastic and my sight is excellent.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I love fruit. I eat as much as I can each day, at least three pieces. I allow 20 minutes every day to get a good quality breakfast: A bowl of porridge with fruit or some brown bread with yoghurt.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I’ve a little bit of a sweet tooth. Anything like wine gums, I’d indulge in every now and again.

What would keep you awake at night?

If I have a lot on my mind, whether it’s family, work or football. If I’m extremely busy at work and there’s something going on in my family life, that could get me agitated. I’m lucky that I haven’t had too many of these distractions.

How do you relax?

I’m a member of Killarney Golf Club. Playing six or seven holes of golf near the lake and mountain I find a fantastic relief for body and mind. I’ve got the national park on my doorstep and it’s where I do a lot of my thinking. I find it a great release.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Nelson Mandela. I’d like to get an in-depth chat with him about the lessons life has taught him.

What would you change about your appearance?

Playing football, I’m very recognisable with my red hair. If I could have slightly less red hair.

When did you last cry?

In the dressing room at the All-Ireland final last year. When you put so much into something, to lose a match of that magnitude is always disappointing. The beauty of sport is that you get on with it — there’s always another day — but for a couple of minutes last year, there was a tear or two.

What’s your favourite smell?

Freshly cut grass. I particularly love April and May when the grass is beginning to be cut. From a footballer’s point of view, it’s our busiest time, the time we most enjoy.

What trait do you least like in others?

Selfishness. I suppose everybody makes themselves a priority, but sometimes you have to consider others when making decisions.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

As a high-profile footballer, people look for you to do things and you don’t always have the time. I’d like to have more time, especially when it comes to helping launch charity events.

Do you pray?

Yes, I was brought up in a house where we all went to Mass. I wouldn’t be at Mass every day of the week, but I go. My mother would kill me if I didn’t!

What would cheer up your day?

Anything in family life. I have lots of nieces and nephews, ranging in age from two to 14. They can come up with a funny comment that puts a smile on your face and put things in perspective.


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