METICULOUS Mark Cooper planning paved the way for Forest Green to capture experienced former Premier League centre-back Matt Mills as a player/coach.

The older brother of Rovers left-back Joseph, Mills,32, will pen a one-year deal after his release from Indian Super League club Pune City.

On Rovers' radar after training at the back end of the season, Cooper saw enough of the former Leicester City and Nottingham Forest centre-back to offer him a deal.

Cooper said: “His brother asked towards the end of the season if Matt could come and train with us and he came in for two or three weeks and was a real positive influence on the players with his experience."

And leaving no stone unturned, Cooper completed his research by speaking to former Bristol City and Bolton striker Trevor Morgan, current assistant boss to Phil Brown at Mills' former club Pune City. 

"Trevor Morgan  is one of my best friends in football and I spoke to Trev in detail," revealed Cooper. "He gave me a glowing reference and obviously I had already seen Matt at close hand for three weeks, so all that information allied together got us to the right decision.

"Matt has been really sensible and realises he wants to get onto the coaching side of things and could have gone and earned a lot more money.

“I had a couple of conversations with him and we spoke about the possibility of doing something.

“It gets a little bit of experience on the pitch and in and around a young group as well, which is something we didn’t really have last season.

“He is going to come in predominantly as a player but he is going to start doing some coaching as well.

“You look at Farrend Rawson and Nathan McGinley, two promising, young defenders who I am sure can learn off Matt.”

Having followed Joseph’s career at The New Lawn following his move last summer, Matt joined the club for training at Stanley Park towards the back end of the season.

Although not intended as a trial period, that experience of meeting the squad and getting to know the management team played a key role in his decision to join the League Two club.

Matt Mills said: “I came and trained with Forest Green at the end of last season and really enjoyed my time.

“The manager is absolutely fantastic and was a big selling point for me and having my brother here as well is nice.

“Forest Green are my follow team on my Sky Sports app, so I’ve kept in the loop all season and watched them for a few games before I went to India.

“They were unfortunate not to get promoted this year but next year, hopefully we’ll go one step further.”

Mills started his career at Swindon Town, where he is from, before switching to Southampton Academy in 1999 before signing his first professional deal three years later.

In January 2006, Mills joined Man City where, after a season troubled by injury, he made his Premier League debut as a substitute in a 2-0 defeat against Chelsea.

Spells at Doncaster Rovers and Reading followed, during which he reached the FA Cup Quarter-Finals and the Championship Play-Off Final with the Royals.

In July 2011, Mills signed for Championship side Leicester City, a move which saw him reject a contract at Premier League Wolverhampton Wanders, choosing to reconnect with former Man City manager Sven-Göran Eriksson at The Foxes.

Mills also spent time at Bolton Wanderers between 2012 and 2015 before Joining Nottingham Forest until January 2018.

The 32-year old also gained valuable experience with England Under 19s, helping the side to the final of the European Under-19 Championships where they lost to France.

Watch Mark Cooper's full press conference with questions from Ash Loveridge and BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Paul Furley