Coleman so proud

Wednesday 27 March 2002

It was only a matter of days before our FA Cup third round encounter with Manchester United that Chris Coleman suffered horrific injuries to his right leg after his car careered off the road.

Fourteen long and agonising months later, Coleman has fought his way back. At times the pain was so great that even getting a good night's sleep was a challenge in itself for the Whites' skipper. Yet Coleman's desire to once again wear the Black and White of Fulham drove his rehabilitation efforts through the pain barrier.

Wednesday night sees Coleman make his return to competitive football with a run out for the reserves as they take on Charlton at Woking FC's Kingfield Stadium. In itself, the appearance is nothing more than a gentle reintroduction to the stresses and strains of competitive football. However, just to be able to set foot on a football pitch is a monumental achievement after the horrendous injuries Cookie suffered.

"I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. I'll probably be making a few mistakes but I'm prepared for that. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself, I'm just happy to put the kit on again and get out there." said Coleman.

"I'm going to be feeling so proud, not only for myself, but for all of the people around me who have put in such hard work. Obviously it's a great achievement for me to get back on the pitch, but they should also take a pat on the back. I've been like a guinea pig - they've told me to do things and I've done them. Without the help of the medical and fitness teams I wouldn't be here."

Coleman was keen to emphasise that Wednesday's appearance does in no way signify the end of his road to recovery, as there is still plenty of hard work ahead.

"I'm back in full-time training now but before that I was running non-stop in the gym. That got me really fit but it's a different kind of fitness when you're playing football. I found it a little bit difficult, I got out of breath a few times but I'm getting stronger every day and with every training session I'm getting used to it again.

"This is far from a comeback I'll need to get at least ten reserve games under my belt before I can even think about knocking on the door of the first team. I've been out for 14 months, which is a long time and it's going to take a few games before I find my feet, even at this level."

Fulham res. V Charlton res.
Wednesday 27th March
Kick-off 7.00pm
Kingfield Stadium