“Never give up!” – a message from ex-Colchester United defender Ben Coker

Ben Coker (left) and Michael Timlin celebrates with champagne following Southend's recent victory in

Ben Coker (left) and Michael Timlin celebrates with champagne following Southend's recent victory in the League Two Play Off Final at Wembley - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ben Coker’s message is clear following the recent high in his rollercoaster East Anglian football journey – “never give up”.

Ben Coker, in his Colchester United days

Ben Coker, in his Colchester United days

The 25-year-old left-back started out in non-league with Suffolk club Bury Town, earned a dream move to League One side Colchester United, but was released and had to rebuild again at Cambridgeshire-based side Histon.

Southend United came calling and Coker is now a third-tier player again following the Shrimpers’ dramatic Play-Off Final penalty shoot-out victory against Wycombe, at Wembley, last Saturday week.

“It’s only just started to sink over the last few days,” said Coker.

“I’ve watched it back a few times and it just feels surreal.

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“Playing at Wembley is something every young footballer dreams about and that day is something I’ll never forget.

“It was a bit crazy looking around and thinking where I’d come from and some of the less glamorous grounds I’d played at in non-league.”

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He continued: “It’s been a massive rollercoaster journey for me.

“I really had to regroup after being let go by Colchester and remind myself that football is all about opinions – you might be one manager’s cup of tea and not another’s. That’s just the way it is.

“Of course there were moments when I began to question whether I’d ever get back to where I was, but that spell back in non-league just made me more determined to prove people wrong.”

Coker, who was working as a builder when playing for Bury under Richard Wilkins’ management, said: “When I was at Histon I knew I might get a trial with a pro club in pre-season.

“I spent five or six weeks training hard when others were resting so that I’d be fully prepared and in the best possible shape. Thankfully it worked and Phil Brown took a chance on me and now here I am.

“I guess my message to any young footballer is ‘never give up’.

“You just have to have a thick skin, not take anything too much to heart and keep belief in your ability.”

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