Swansea University awards Christopher Coleman OBE an Honorary Degree

Christopher Coleman

Christopher Coleman OBE, the man responsible for leading the Wales national team into the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, has been awarded an Honorary Degree from Swansea University.

Mr Coleman was presented with the MSc (Master of Science) award today (Wednesday 11 January) at Swansea University’s Great Hall by Mr Raymond Ciborowski, Registrar of Swansea University during the degree ceremony for the College of Human and Health Sciences.

As a child growing up in the Townhill area of Swansea, Chris Coleman was a keen supporter of Liverpool. He made his first professional appearance for Swansea City aged 17, in the autumn of 1987.

During his time at the Swans, he worked his way through the Wales international ranks, from youth to U21 level. He made nearly 200 appearances for the south Wales club and helped win the Welsh Cup in 1989 and 1991 when he wore a Swans shirt for the last time.

He was signed by then First Division Crystal Palace in 1991. Whilst with the club, he was capped for Wales at senior level for the first time. It was during his time at Palace that Chris Coleman won the first of his 32 Wales international caps, making his debut and scoring in the 1-1 draw with Austria in Vienna on 29 April 1992.

He was sold to Blackburn Rovers, the defending league champions, for £2.8million in December 1995. His career continued to flourish and in December 1995, he signed for Premier League Champions Blackburn Rovers for £2.8million. In 1997, he was on the move again, this time signing for Kevin Keegan’s Fulham for a £1.9million fee and becoming the club’s record signing at the time. He quickly became club captain and helped Fulham to secure the 2nd Division Championship and then promotion to the Premier League under Jean Tigana.

He announced his retirement as a player in October 2002 after he broke his leg in a car crash, and in the same month he joined Fulham's coaching staff under Tigana. He was named as Fulham's permanent manager in May 2003, becoming the youngest manager in the Premier League.

In January 2012, he was appointed team manager of the Wales national team and in October 2015, Wales' qualification for the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament was confirmed meaning that Coleman had led Wales to their first tournament qualification since 1958.

Qualifying for Euro 2016 was already a huge achievement – but at the finals, Wales exceeded all expectations and made it as far as the semi-final. The high-point of this campaign was an astonishing 3-1 victory in the quarter-final over Belgium, ranked second in the world. At the time, Gary Lineker said: “Wow. Just wow. What an incredible performance; one of the greatest performances in the history of British football.”

In October 2016, Chris Coleman was given the freedom of Swansea, a privilege also enjoyed by footballer Mel Nurse, who was awarded an honorary degree from Swansea University in 2015. In December 2016, he received a Special Recognition Award at the Wales Sport Awards for guiding his side to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

In January this year he was appointed an OBE for services to football in the New Year Honours list.

On receiving his honorary degree from Swansea University, Mr Coleman said: “I am delighted and honoured to have received this recognition from Swansea University. It means so much that the recognition comes from my home city. I accept this on behalf of all my family and friends who have helped me succeed in my chosen profession. Thank you.”

Mr Ciborowski said: “Euro 2016 alone will secure Chris Coleman and his team a place in sporting history. Chris Coleman has indeed proved an inspiration for football fans and to all those who identify as Welsh; in Swansea, we can be particularly proud to call him one of our own. I am honoured to present to him this award.”