FOOTBALL boss Colin Cooper has spoken of the emotion of scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in memory of his young son.
The Hartlepool United manager led a 15-strong party to the 19,000 feet summit to raise thousands of pounds for the Finlay Cooper Fund.
Colin and his wife Julie set up the fund 11 years ago after the tragic choking death of their son Finlay just weeks before he turned two.
He was joined on the journey of a lifetime by his assistant Craig Hignett, famous Pools fan Jeff Stelling and 12 other supporters.
Cooper told how emotional they all found the experience after battling through altitude sickness and exhaustion.
He said: “When we got to the top, I felt exhausted but I had a couple of things planned in memory of Fin.
“While we were trekking up the mountain, there were a lot of natural stones. My fellow trekkers, Mark Simpson and Chris Masterson, had found some heart-shaped slate, naturally formed over the years.
“I took the slate and wrote Fin’s name on it and laid it at the summit as a little memento. It was emotional for me. I was sobbing like a baby for quite a while.”
The group reached the top on Thursday after an eight- hour climb in darkness.
Cooper also shed a tear after speaking to wife Julie via satellite phone live on local radio.
“I have to say I had some harsh words with Julie about that. I was exhausted and emotional but that really took me over the edge,” he added.
“We all felt emotional. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. As generous as every one of the group has been raising money for the fund, I think everybody had their own personal goals that drove them on and up.
“I was initially pretty dismissive of the idea of coming up here but it’s been an incredible experience.”
You can still sponsor the group by visiting www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/finlaycooperfund or to donate £5 text “coop15 £5” to 70070.