The support Neale Cooper gave him is something Paul Lawson will never forget.
Frozen out of the first-team picture at Ross County, the cajoling and enthusiasm of his assistant manager kept his head high and his determination strong.
Lawson went four months without a start during County’s first season in the Premiership in 2012-13. He came back in the second half of the campaign, starting 18 straight games as the Staggies finished fifth – their highest league placing.
The sadness surrounding Cooper’s passing on Monday was felt strongly by Lawson, now manager at Highland League side Formartine United, who credits the 54-year-old as having a huge impact on him.
Lawson said: “You heard stories about what kind of guy he was but he came in when I was out of favour with the manager at the time and not in a great place. I found myself isolated and it was hard to take. It was difficult but just seeing him every morning, he always put a smile on your face.
“Whether he had words with the manager I don’t know, but slowly I got myself back in the team. You might think it’s such a small thing being out of the team but it was a difficult time. I can never thank him enough.
“He always kept your spirits up and he’s one of the guys you wished you met earlier in your career. He had a great rapport with the players, as a go-between the manager and the players, and he fitted it perfectly. The boys took to him straight away.”
The sadness over his loss was compounded by he had told Lawson he would try get along to more Formartine games next season.
Lawson had six years in Dingwall, working with the Gothenburg Great in his final year before joining in Motherwell. Since making his own steps into management, former Celtic player Lawson identified Cooper’s key trait.
He said: “The biggest thing for him was man-management. He was quite close to the players and would always try gee them up. He was big for me getting my confidence back; players will know how hard it is when you’re out of the picture and training with the reserves. It’s not nice. Rather than kick up a fuss, he kept telling me to work away and my chance would come. It did.”