WALES’ football team Manager, Chris Coleman has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) during the first of its Swansea graduation ceremonies in the city’s Brangwyn Hall.
Born and brought up in Swansea, Chris Coleman enjoyed a career as a professional footballer before becoming Wales Manager in January 2012.
Without doubt, the highlight of his career has been leading Wales to a first major tournament since 1958. Whilst on the way to qualifying for UEFA EURO 2016, Chris also steered Wales to their highest ever FIFA World Ranking position of 8th.
Chris Coleman was presented today by Ceredig Emanuel, Head of the University’s School of Sport, Health and Outdoor Education, who said: “It is difficult not to overestimate the effect the Welsh football team’s performance had on our nation. It has enriched our sporting and cultural life and will always be there as a landmark and iconic moment in our history. This performance was no accident. It was masterminded by Chris Coleman – a manager who is able unify a squad of disparate players into a pattern of play that exemplified the best of each of them, with a real sense of purpose and direction. To achieve this at international level when there is infrequent contact with players is an outstanding achievement.
On receiving the award, Chris Coleman said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic, I never thought I’d stand here today and receive something like this.
“I’ve failed as many times as I’ve achieved but it’s not about that, it’s about self-belief and perseverance. You’ll have so many doubters along the way – if you haven’t got belief in yourself you don’t go a long way. If you haven’t got perseverance, your talent doesn’t get you through. If you think you can’t, you won’t.
“Everything I’ve ever achieved, I’ve had good people around me. We’ve got a good saying, I can’t but we can. Make sure the ‘we’ are the people you want around you.
“With us, I’m the front man, I’m the one who speaks to the media; I pick the team and make the big decisions but I’ve got a team of people around me to help me with almost everything so I have to delegate well and listen to the good advice. Surround yourself with good people. Never be in a comfort zone or you won’t achieve anything.
“I’m not telling you this because I read it in a book; because I saw it on TV or because someone told me. I’m telling you because it’s my experience.”
During EURO 2016, Chris was famously quoted as saying: “Dream – don’t be afraid to have dreams. Because four years ago I was as far away from this as you can imagine and look what’s happened.
With this mantra, Chris reached the pinnacle of his football career at EURO 2016, as he guided Wales to the Semi- Finals of a major tournament for the very first time. It was an incredible achievement that inspired a nation. An achievement that went beyond football and beyond sport. It was of cultural importance.
During his playing career, Chris ran out for Swansea City, Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers and Fulham. He was capped 32 times for Wales and scored 4 goals.
After injury ended his playing career at the age of 32, he became the youngest ever manager in the English Premier League at Fulham, guiding them to 9th position following his first full season in charge.
His managerial career also took him to Real Sociedad, Coventry City and Greek outfit Larissa, before taking on his dream job as Wales manager.
Chris enjoys a special relationship with Welsh fans as he regularly travels around the country, outside of the media spotlight, to hold intimate Q&A sessions in the heart of Welsh communities. It is, therefore, no wonder the country has shown him and his team such incredible support – the kind of support that led Chris to say: “As a nation geographically we’re small, but I think if you’re judging us on passion then we could be described as a continent.”