Coleman's vow

Tuesday 1 January 2002

Fulham defender Chris Coleman has vowed to regain his place in the Londoners' side following his year-long battle to recover from injuries sustained in a car smash.

The Welsh international broke his right leg in three places, shattered his ankle and badly damaged his knee when his car careered off a Surrey road.

And he could yet face another knee operation - which may set his recovery back by a further six months.

But he hopes to return to action next season after undergoing a series of skin grafts and operations on his injuries.

The 31-year-old said: 'It's almost a year to the day that I had my car accident and in many ways it feels like longer, just because it feels so long since I played a proper game of football.

'It's been the hardest year of my life, and I don't know if it's going to get easier or worse.

'In saying that, given the state of my leg last January, it is a miracle that I've made this much of a recovery so far.

'If someone had said to me back then that in 12 months' time, you'll be playing a bit of five-a-side and joining in training, I'd have bitten their hand off.

'But now I've got to this stage, I'm ready to kick on to the next level. I've got this far, and I will never give up - not until the doctors or surgeons tell me that I won't play again.'

Coleman joined Fulham from Blackburn in 1997, when the Craven Cottage club were still in Division Two.