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25 - Chris Coleman

25 - Chris Coleman
Despite being born in Swansea in October 1970, Coleman first signed schoolboy terms with Manchester City. But in 1987, at the age of 17, he returned home to sign for the Swans. He spent three years at the Vetch, making nearly 200 appearances in a Swansea shirt. During this period he established himself as one of the top Welsh talents, and in 1990 he was snapped up for £275,000 by Crystal Palace.

While at Palace he broke into the senior Wales squad, making his debut as a substitute against Austria. He experienced Premiership football until Palace`s relegation at the end of the 1994-95 season.

But he was soon back in the Premiership when reigning Premiership Champions Blackburn Rovers paid £2.8m for his services in 1995. His spell in the north was a short one, ended in 1997 when he took the surprising step of dropping two divisions to join Fulham.

At the time Fulham had been taken over by Mohamed al Fayed, and had bid ambitions of heading towards the Premiership. By now, Coleman was widely touted as the best defender outside of the Premiership and became the solid foundation for Kevin Keegan's team. Fulham were on their way up through the division with Coleman as captain. But things took a tragic turn for the worse when Coleman`s Jaguar spun off the road, leaving Coleman with serious injuries.

Coleman broke both his legs, an ankle and damaged his knee in the collision, as well as suffering complications with infections. He underwent many months of rehabilitation, but after a reserve-team match in March 2002 he reluctantly admitted he would never regain full fitness. He was given an emotional farewell at the end of his final appearance for Wales at the Millennium Stadium, having scored 4 goals during his 32 international caps.

Having made a big impact at Craven Cottage during his playing days, he was asked to join Fulham's coaching staff in October 2002, and by the end of the season he was caretaker manager following the dismissal of Frenchman Jean Tigana. At first he insisted that he didn`t want the job on a full-time basis, but after a five-game spell at the helm which included three wins and a draw, he was offered the job on a permanent basis & accepted it. This deal made him the Premiership`s youngest manager. He guided the club to ninth in the table in 2003-04; they finished 13th in 2004/2005 and the following year recorded 13 home wins on their way to 12th spot.

Sold to: Crystal Palace for £275,000 (1990)

Claim to fame: Making nearly 200 appearances for his hometown club & winning 32 Welsh caps

Where is he now? Forced into retirement after a car crash in 2002, currently manager at Coventry City.

Quote from Fulhamfc.com: 'A born leader, strong, tall, and commanding in the centre of Fulham`s defence, Coleman went on to play under Paul Bracewell and then, with the arrival of Jean Tigana, was a key part of the team which went on to win the Division One title. Although his participation in that season was cut short his influence was immense and he was greatly missed by players and fans alike. The man who was one of the Club`s most popular leaders on the pitch is fast becoming a Fulham hero from the dug out.'

Writer:Murton_Jack
Date:Sunday July 12 2009
Time: 4:53PM

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