NEALE Cooper admits he never even dared to dream of one day returning to Hartlepool United as manager.
In fact, the new Pools boss has revealed that, were it not for a phone call from SportMail three weeks ago, he would still be walking his dog in Scotland.
That conversation prompted Cooper into drafting an application letter and his CV was soon headed for Victoria Park.
Even then he considered the notion of returning to the club as fanciful at best.
But when there was an invitation to meet with Pools officials Cooper admits he began to dream.
Within a week he had been confirmed as the replacement to Mick Wadsworth and was yesterday afternoon unveiled to the region’s press.
And Cooper told SportMail it has been a whirlwind period, which all began with a “strange” phone call in the woods.
“I had no contact with anyone until I had a phone call from a Hartlepool Mail journalist,” he told us today ahead of his first match in charge at Sheffield United tomorrow (kick off 1pm).
“I was out walking the dog in Aberdeen in the woods.
“I went back to my sister and my mother and said ‘I’ve had this strange call from a reporter saying the bookies have offered a price on me getting the Pools job and he asked would I be interested’.
“They started laughing because it was out of the blue – it was bonkers.
“But then when the Aberdeen paper picked it up and people up there started asking me what was it all about – because I was just the guy who walked his dog.
“So it all came from that dodgy phone call in the woods and it went from there really - if it wasn’t for that I’d still be walking my dog in Aberdeen!”
Full story in Friday’s Mail