Former City academy defender forced into retirement at 19

Bobby Copping is an ambassador for Help Delete Cancer alongside friend and Norwich City star Todd Ca

Bobby Copping (left) has been forced to retire due to a head injury after heading the ball. Picture: Courtesy of Bobby Copping - Credit: Archant

Former Norwich City academy defender and Peterborough United player Bobby Copping has been forced into retirement at the age of 19 due to a head injury sustained by heading the ball.

The Dereham-born teenager was navigating his way through Posh's academy, even featuring on the bench for the first-team earlier in League One this season. Now, he has been forced to cut his career short just as it was beginning after suffering a mini-seizure from heading the ball during a training game back in July. 

Copping was left in hospital having lost his sight and experiencing numbness down one side of his body. The young defender built up his fitness during multiple training games, but during the warm-up for his comeback match, the injury reoccured. 

"As soon as I've headed it, I've landed and I went blind. I couldn't see a thing.

"We went and saw the best brain specialist in the country, I spoke to him and he thought the same as us that there's nothing we can really do because it was the first time it had happened and it might have been a one off. 

"I went down the concussion protocol," Copping told Sport Bible. "I staggered my return to training. Slowly, I played 30 minutes, 45, 60, I was on the bench for the first-team and then as I'm about to play my first 90 minutes, in the warm-up it happened again. 

"The worst part was ringing my mum and hearing her cry on the phone. I think that was probably the worst."

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"The injury has affected my memory. Even on a day-to-day basis I struggle to remember things. Say you asked me what I did a few days ago, I wouldn't be able to tell you. But I do remember one of the physios telling me that I told him my date of birth was 1001, which would make me 1000 years old."

Copping was spotted by City's youth scouts playing for Swanton Morley after a season at Dereham Wanderers. He went onto spend nine years in the Canaries' academy before joining Bury. 

The Manchester club's expulsion from the Football League saw Copping without a club. Despite trialling with Brighton and having an offer from Sunderland, the defender elected to join Peterborough. 

Copping was spotted by Norwich City scouts as a youngster and spent nine years in the Canaries' acad

Copping was spotted by Norwich City scouts as a youngster and spent nine years in the Canaries' academy. Picture: Courtesy of Bobby Copping - Credit: Archant

He signed his first professional contract at London Road in 2018, describing the moment as a 'dream come true'.

Now, the teenager has been forced to look at life outside football and the club have given him an off the field role in business operations.

He is now keen to see more done by the footballing authorities to prevent this kind of head injury from happening to anyone else. 

"Your brain is your future and football is a very small amount of someone's life," he said.

"These things need to be looked at more in depth and taken seriously because I've seen my situation - one day and then everything's changed. So, if we can do more to prevent these sorts of things then anything like that is great.

"I don't know directly whether that's caused this or something just came on. But you look at it and think if you're not heading the ball from eight years old and then that's probably going to help.

"My objective now is to help other people."

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