Sunderland legend Kevin Ball on why ex-Fulham team-mate Chris Coleman was always destined for success

Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman
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Chris Coleman’s outstanding leadership skills meant he was destined to become a successful manager, says ex-team-mate and Sunderland legend Kevin Ball.

Ball, club ambassador at Sunderland, was captained by Coleman when the pair played together at Fulham in the 1999-2000 campaign.

They have remained friends and Ball says chief executive Martin Bain pulled of a major coup by landing Coleman as manager.

Coleman went from captaining the Fulham side to managing it before spells in charge at Real Sociedad and Coventry City, a short spell in Greece with AEL before a successful six-year spell in charge of Wales, leading his country to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Ball has hailed Coleman’s “magnificent presence and aura” ahead of today’s Championship game a league leaders Wolves.

“You could see then he would go into management,” said Ball, who also knows assistant manager Kit Symons well, the pair having played together at Portsmouth.

“When things happened at Fulham, and Chris stepped into management, you could see that about him.

“He has a magnificent presence, certainly an aura about him. What he does, he gets you to want to play for him and that is vitally important.

“Will it be tough for him at the club at this moment in time? Absolutely, but he was always one that liked a challenge, so fair play to him.”

Sunderland are second-bottom of the Championship ahead of this afternoon’s game at Molineux, weather permitting.

Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures cast doubt over the game last night, with Wolves pledging to do “everything possible” to make sure the game goes ahead.

Ahead of the game, Ball added: “I know Chris personally. I have played alongside him and he has captained a team I have played in.

“I used to watch other captains and how they led and I thoroughly enjoyed playing under him.

“I thought he was a very funny captain. What I mean by that is he used to like a laugh and a joke, but he knew when something had to be said too.

“He knew I always had his back, like when I was captain at Sunderland and I had team-mates who had my back. It is important to any captain to have other leaders.

“He was a great leader and it is a similar thing now at the club.

“I am delighted he is here. I have known Kit for 30-odd years, at Fulham and Portsmouth together too.

“To see those two turn up, when I heard it was all sorted out I was at home and I was absolutely buzzing at the appointment.

“For the club, it is a fantastic appointment and full credit to Martin Bain.

“The main target was Chris and when it came out we had got him, a lot of supporters – not just Sunderland fans – will have seen that appointment as a major coup.”

Officials at Wolves say staff and volunteer fans will be working to clear the stadium, with a large crowd expected this afternoon.

A Wolves statement added: “At this stage, advice to fans is to start making plans to arrive as early as possible ahead of the game as the inclement weather will disrupt travel plans and will increase congestion around the stadium.

“All the normal road closures will be in place.

“Please also keep in touch with our official website, social media channels and the local media, where further updates will be posted with any new information.”