Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Coleman's Triumph; Chris Is Back Only 14 Months after His Horrific Car Crash

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Coleman's Triumph; Chris Is Back Only 14 Months after His Horrific Car Crash

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

IT MAY only be a reserveteam game against Charlton, but when Chris Coleman plays for Fulham tonight it will be the biggest moment in his 15-year football career.

The fact that he has marked against some of the best players in the world meant nothing after he injured himself in an horrific car crash 14 months ago.

At one stage, even playing football again was no longer a goal as the 31-year-old former Wales defender wished only that the pain would go away.

He broke his right leg in three places, shattered his ankle and damaged his knee so badly that in he has needed 10 operations to repair the injuries.

Some of the medical experts told him to abandon all hope of ever playing again and he has been hit by self doubt more times than he cares to remember.

But if he comes through the 30 minutes he is scheduled to play at Woking's Kingfield ground tonight, his painful struggle will have been worthwhile.

"Once I go on the pitch I will feel like I have won. I will have overcome it," Coleman said.

"A lot of people thought I'd never play football again but I will be doing that even if I find I am well off the pace. It will probably be nine or 10 games before I can say that is it, I am back, but tonight I will be in a reserve game and feel like I have beaten it.

"If I am lucky enough to get back into the first team, the first game will probably be the most important of my career but if that does not happen this will be the next best thing.

"I don't think playing tonight will compare to anything else I have experienced.

"I think it will be my biggest achievement in football because of the severity of the accident and the injuries I had.

"Just to get back on the pitch for about half an hour will be the best. I have played international football for Wales against some of the best players in the world, I won the First Division championship with Fulham and had good times at Crystal Palace and Blackburn. But without a doubt this will be my biggest achievement.

"What happened to me has made me appreciate what I have got. It makes me look back and realise how lucky I have been. …

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