Chris Coleman’s outstanding leadership skills meant he was destined to become a successful manager, says ex-teammate 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, 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 against 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.
“He knew I always had his back, like when I was captain at Sunderland and I had teammates 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.”