Ollie Cooper | To score in a derby is special, I've been dreaming about that moment
Swansea City midfielder Ollie Cooper fulfilled a dream by getting on the scoresheet in a south Wales derby victory over Cardiff City.
The 22-year-old is enjoying an outstanding breakthrough season for the Swans, scored his third goal in as many home games as Russell Martin’s men rose to fourth place in the Championship table, having now won seven of their last nine games.
Cooper - who had trials for Cardiff as a youngster - was again an energetic presence in the final third with and without the ball.
And he got his reward by sending an unerring strike into the top corner after good work by Luke Cundle, to give the Swans the lead against the 10-man Bluebirds.
Cooper may have taken the headlines, but he was keen to praise the contribution of the entire squad to a success he had long dreamed of being involved in.
“It’s amazing. I can’t quite put it into words yet. I’m still all over the place, it’s something that I've been dreaming about for a long time. It means so much to the fans and a lot to me having been at the club for such a long time”, said Cooper.
“Every goal is special, but to get it against Cardiff, especially the way I scored, is massive.
“I think the way we try to play is to be as patient as we can and keep working the ball until the gaps appear. We didn’t think they would sit off quite as much as they did. The early red card has probably changed their plans completely.
“We just kept doing what we usually do regardless of whether they have 10 or 11 players. We kept working on it and kept passing it around and the chances came.
“It probably should have been more than two today. Another day it could have been maybe three or four, but all that matters is that we got the win."
But Cooper was keen to praise the contribution of the whole Swans squad, particularly given the excellent run of form they have been on following an initially frustrating start to the season.
“We've had a tricky start to the season, but we got through that, and came out stronger as individuals and as a team. We need to keep going now and keep pushing and pushing," added Cooper.
“Everyone is playing their part at the moment, whether you're starting or playing your part off the bench. Everyone is putting a shift in when they come on or are coming into the team. That’s the way it’s got to be, we have to give everything on the pitch to make sure we get the three points.
“We’ve matured as a group and we needed to compete in the Championship, at this level you need to. Now we’ve got that alongside the technical ability that the players have got, we believe we can keep going and going."
Cooper's fine showings for the Swans have also seem him mentioned as a candidate for a place in the Wales' World Cup squad, but the youngster knows he need to continue to focus on working hard for the Swans in order to give himself the best opportunity of being on the plane to Qatar.
“In terms of Wales all I can do is keep doing what I'm doing and try and perform as well as I can. It’s up to him [Rob Page, Wales manager] to pick the squad.
“It would be a massive achievement for me and an honour to be selected. At this point of the season, it’s an honour to even be considered and have my name in the same sentence as the Wales squad. All I can do is show people what I can do and then it’s up to him."