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