Coleman's tribute

Tuesday 11 December 2001

From Fulham Today's Ian McCulloch

While Chris Coleman watched his team-mates beat Everton on Saturday and move up to eighth in the table, across London his erstwhile defensive partner Kit Symons was helping his new club Crystal Palace to a hard fought win over close rivals Manchester City. Symons made a fine debut by all accounts, laying on the opening goal for striker Dougie Freedman.

Chris took the opportunity after the Everton game to talk about his friend and former teammate.

"I was very sad to see him go. For myself as much as anything else, because I'll really miss him. He was one of my best friends and I've had three or four good years with him at Fulham, but he wasn't playing first team football and that was important to him. He's shown that he is a true professional by being prepared to drop down a division because he wants to play football so badly, and I wish him the best of luck.

Professional is certainly the word to be used to describe Symons. Although clearly down the pecking order in terms of selection his approach to being in that position was always first class. Who can forget the part he played in last season's Championship, having to come in halfway through the season under the most unfortunate of circumstances, and take the place of his best mate who was lying severely injured in hospital. He did tremendously for the Club then as he has on every other occasion he has been called on.

"Anybody who knows Kit, he's probably the nicest man you could ever wish to meet," agreed Coleman, "And his attitude has been spot on since he has been here. He hasn't created a fuss when he hasn't been in the team, he's just got on with it. When he's been called upon he's done a fantastic job and I'm sure the Fulham fans will be sorry to see him go. I hope that they understand his decision to leave, and like I say I wish him a lot of luck at Palace.

"I think the fans appreciate the job that he has done here. He came when we were in the second division and played a massive part in the two promotions we had, but I'm certain that they wish him the best in his career at Crystal Palace.

Who knows, perhaps the Palace could actually make it into the Premiership next season, and Symons could have an early reunion with his former teammates? Coleman would look forward to it with relish.

"It would be great. I've obviously still got friends over at Palace and it would be fantastic to see them come up, especially now that Kit's there. It would be a dream for him, and I really hope it could happen.

On a personal level, Coleman is stepping up his training on an almost daily basis, and without wanting to get to carried away, he admits that things are going very well.

"I trained every day last week, with a ball, which was a very big step forward for me, and I came through that all right. I keep improving a little bit every week, it's slow but we're getting there. I said right from the beginning that I never expected to be kicking a ball in December, so I'm very happy with the state of affairs at the moment.

"I don't want to put any dates on when I might be able to play a game again, the medical team haven't said anything about when they would expect me to be able to, so I'm really just taking it a day at a time. I'm really happy to be playing with the lads, and able to join in. I'm obviously only at half-pace but it's just nice to be involved, and like I say, I'm happy to take that situation at the moment"

So, sadness at the departure of Kit Symons, but the news that Chris Coleman is strutting his stuff out on the training ground again will be welcomed by Fulham fans everywhere.