JAKE Cooper admitted once Millwall made it clear they wanted to sign him on a permanent deal from Reading he “couldn’t wait” to join the club.
Cooper, 22, signed a three-year contract with Millwall last week, more than a month after the original fee had been agreed with Reading.
But despite the public uncertainty over whether a deal would be completed, Cooper never had any doubt that his future lay with Neil Harris’ Lions.
He explained: “I spoke to the manager here and he always expressed he wanted to sign me on a permanent basis.
“I was at Reading but they made it clear that I could go. As soon as they did that I was more than happy and couldn’t wait to join this football club.
“I was excited. I thought it would always happen. It was just…focus on getting fit and training well so that when I did eventually come here I could be on the top of my form.”
“I made it clear to the manager here I wanted to join. Reading made it clear I wasn’t in their plans. Eventually it got done.
“I was in touch with a few of the boys. We’ve always had close relationships. Even if I didn’t get the move back I would have stayed in touch.
“I have a great relationship with the manager here. The other coaches and Livers [David Livermore] and Adam Barrett, I’m very close to. I get on with all the boys here. That was a real thing for me to want to come back.
“It’s going to be competitive for any place in a team. That’s what you want. This season should be the same. We’ve all got to battle for our places. There is no problem with that.
“You’ve got to have minutes and prove to people what you can do. Hopefully this season I’ll have plenty of game time in the Championship and that will give me the chance to show how good I am.”
Despite the drawn-out nature of the deal, fitness isn’t an issue for Cooper as he was fully involved in Reading’s preparations for the new season, travelling to the Netherlands with Jaap Stam's squad for their pre-season tour.
“It was a bit of a weird one,” Cooper admitted. “I wasn’t expecting to go there but I think they needed numbers. It was good for me to get some game time and match fitness for the start of the season, wherever I was going to be playing.
“[Stam] made it clear to me what his plan with me was. I had a good bit of time to realise what I had to do and sort things out.
“It was difficult to say goodbye to some people. I worked really well with the academy, the staff were unbelievable with me. It was sad to say goodbye to some of them. But at the same time, it’s time for me to move on in my career.”
As fate would have it, Cooper will return with Millwall to the Madejski Stadium on February 3 – his birthday.
He’s looking forward to a few other away trips this season, but, speaking at The Den earlier this week, he left little doubt which is his favourite stadium.
“Elland Road is always a nice one. Sunderland as well,” he said. “But this is the best place to play. When teams come here, that will be fun, won’t it?
“I don’t think any team enjoys coming to this place. Hopefully we can give a few people some hard work.”
“We always enjoy playing here. It’s our home and you saw how good our form was here. There’s no reason we can’t take that into next season.”
Image: Millwall FC