But the new man in charge at Ashton Gate knows his short-term remit is to get the Robins climbing up the League One table.
Cotterill was unveiled on Tuesday morning, making a return to management almost 18 months after leaving his last post at Nottingham Forest.
He succeeds another former Reds boss in Sean O'Driscoll, who oversaw the Robins' relegation to League One and subsequent poor start in the third tier during a 40-game reign that brought just 11 victories.
In 2008 City were within touching distance of promotion to the Premier League but lost to Hull in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Today, Cotterill inherits a team that is 23rd in the table and just two points behind Sheffield United who occupy the slot immediately above the relegation zone.
"Obviously, the first thing I nee to do is turn it around," said the 49-year-old at Tuesday morning's press conference.
"But I feel Bristol should have a Premier League club. It's a great city and it deserves to have one.
"It has always been my ambition to manage in the Premier League and ambition burns as fiercely as ever.
"There's enormous potential at this club. The long-term plan is in place, that has already been put down by the chairman and the board. For me, in my conversations over the weekend, I think that plan is fantastic.
"A new stadium - a 40,000 seater stadium. There aren't many clubs that can have that kind of vision and I want to be around to be part of that because, as I said before, the potential here is huge.
"But I think in the short term there also needs to be a short-term plan, that's important, and I have one in mind."
Cotterill certainly has a reputation for hauling clubs out of relegation trouble on limited resources - a task he succeeded in at Forest.
Similarly, he kept Portsmouth afloat on the pitch amid a financial crisis and helped Burnley retain their Championship status during difficult years between 2004 and 2007 despite being forced to sell his best players.
Asked if he could turn it around at Ashton Gate, Cotterill said: "If I don't manage to do it then it will be the only one I haven't.
"Nottingham Forest was going down like the Titanic. Forest would have ended up finishing the season with 24 points if I hadn't gone in there. And this is not knocking Steve McClaren, but a former England manager was in charge there before me and I managed to turn that around.
"It wasn't immediate. I went in there around the same sort of time - the transfer window had just closed and it was the back end of November when you couldn't get any players in.
"But I turned it around and I was in charge of a team that went to Leeds and scored seven goals - and no-one had ever done that.
"I want to do it here because I want to do really well for three sets of people. One is the owner and the directors, another is the players because I love my players and I will fight for them tooth and nail, but more importantly it has to be for the fans.
"The fans are here for Bristol City Football Club through thick and thin and they are everything to a football club and we need to give them something to shout about."