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Coleman enjoying language fog

last updated Saturday 25th August 2007, 1:18 PM
Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman

CHRIS COLEMAN already knows enough Spanish to have complimented Real Sociedad’s female president on the size of her balls.

The ex-Fulham manager told his new employer Maria De La Pena that she had ‘cojones grandes’ after she gave an impressive speech to restless fans.

But El Cookie admits the language barrier has been a major frustration in the build-up to his first match in charge of Sociedad tomorrow night.

Coleman admitted: “A lot of our players speak English but, me and my big mouth, I came in on the first day and said ‘Don’t speak English to me, speak Spanish’ — what a "flipping" mistake!

"I was acting all big and clever, saying I’ll learn the language but now I’m thinking ‘Speak English to me boys!’

“My Spanish tutor Alan is a lovely lad from Southend but he’s taken the whole of August off on holiday, so I haven’t seen him for three weeks!

“Some of the words are unpronounceable when you’ve got a set of teeth like mine.

"I’ve picked up a lot of football terminology but there’s nothing like knowing what everyone’s saying.

"It can make you feel a bit insecure when you don’t know what the players are saying — although sometimes maybe that’s a good thing!

“I did manage to impress the club president though, I think. They had an annual fans’ open day and because she was under pressure after relegation last season, she was getting a few whistles and jeers.

“I know a lot of men who would have run away from that situation but I was impressed with the way she faced it. I told her ‘You have cojones grandes!’”

You have to admire Coleman’s cojones too. While most British managers would have waited for another job at home after being sacked by Fulham in April, Coleman took the plunge in Spain — thanks to a recommendation from fellow Welshman and Sociedad legend John Toshack.

His arrival did not meet with a unanimous ‘Ole!’ from the Basques. One Sociedad-supporting cabbie told me appointing ‘Mr Coley-man’ was a mistake — but he was happy the new boss at least “looked like a Basque”.

Yet as he prepares for Sunday's home league opener with Castellon, Coleman reckons the locals are warming to him.

He has already signed more Basque players and splashed £300,000 for Crewe’s Wales midfielder David Vaughan.

The boss said: “They’re friendly people and I’m always called Mr Coley-man — but I know a big percentage of them wanted a Basque manager.

“I do think they appreciate what we’re trying to do, though.”

Source Dave Kidd at The Sun
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