'Everyone will miss him. It’s just inexplicable and heart-breaking' - Jeff Stelling's emotional tribute to former Hartlepool boss Neale Cooper

Neale Cooper.
Neale Cooper.

Hartlepool United president Jeff Stelling has paid an emotional tribute to Neale Cooper describing his death at the age of 54 as 'heartbreaking'.

Cooper - who enjoyed two spells in charge at Victoria Park - tragically died on Bank Holiday Monday after a fall at his home in Aberdeen in the early hours of Sunday, May 27.

The former Pools boss, one of the most successful in the club's history, was laid to rest in a private family funeral on Friday afternoon in Aberdeen.

Afterwards, A Celebration of the Life of Neale Cooper was to be held at his beloved Pittodrie, home of Aberdeen and the club where Cooper kicked-off a hugely successful playing career.

Stelling, speaking to the club's website, said: "In truth, I didn’t see Neale that often but we spoke on the phone quite a lot.

"I do remember the first time I met him we took a camera crew to the hotel in London where the team were staying to do an interview with him.

"I had heard about his reputation for doing a Sir Alex Ferguson impression so, not knowing him at all, the first thing I asked him was if he would do it – and he refused point blank, in the nicest possible way, of course.

"Tattie was the sort of guy who just couldn’t help himself though – and five minutes later he was in full, fluent Fergie mode and that was just the sort of fella he was.

"He so full of fun and full of life."

Cooper presided over two of the most successful years in the club’s history when Pools were in League One.

Stelling added: "In his first spell his record was absolutely brilliant.

“If you look at his win ratio it was nearly 44 per cent and that takes some doing – and we were at a higher level as well so to achieve that was superb.

“He had a better win rate than Cloughie – and we all know what he went on to do!

“It’s just a terrible shock and a terrible loss.

"I just hope people in the football world know that he wasn’t just loved in Aberdeen but that he was loved in Hartlepool as well because Hartlepool was his second home.

“Everyone will miss him. It’s just inexplicable and heart-breaking.”

Tributes from around the world flooded in following Cooper's death and Pools launched an online book of condolences to give fans the opportunity to share their memories of one of the greatest managers in the club's history.