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Appleton bounces back from disaster Nov 23 2004

By Chris Lepkowski, Evening Mail

Michael Appleton will watch Albion take on Manchester United this
Saturday knowing that this time last year he couldn't have stomached a
football match.

The former Baggies and United star was just 25 years-old when he
suffered severe cruciate ligament damage in a freak training ground incident
in November 2001.

After two years of rehabilitation and a number of aborted comebacks,
Appleton finally called time on his career last November.

He is now assisting youth coach Craig Shakespeare and busy collecting
his UEFA coaching badges - with the B and A licences next on his agenda.

Twelve months after hanging up his boots, with his 29th birthday just
around the corner, the Salford-born star has spoken for the first time about
he has continued his career on the other side of the touchline since the

And he concedes that had United been visiting The Hawthorns 12 months
ago, he may have spent his Saturday afternoon elsewhere.

"I wouldn't have watched it last year," said Appleton. "There was a
stage after the initial shock where I wanted to get away from football for a
while and didn't want anything to do with football.

"But once it had sunk in I realised that it was time to get on with my

"At the time I was going through a low period where things hadn't been
going too well. I went down for a routine meeting with the doctor. He said
that he couldn't see me ever playing football again.

"It was a bit surreal at first. I walked out of the room on that
Friday without realised it had happened and even over the weekend I never
really thought about it.

"When I came back in on the Monday and started telling people, that's
when it hit me."

Appleton now aims to transform the negative end of his playing career
into a positive.

The ambitious former Preston man is cutting his teeth in coaching and
eventually hopes to become a manager. And his knowhow was even put into use
following Gary Megson's departure recently.

"I was lucky enough to help Frank Burrows with the first-team for two
weeks," he added. "I enjoyed the experience and it didn't faze me, even
though I was a bit nervous.

"Coaching is something I'm doing now but it will get to a situation
one day when I will want to be manager.

"Unfortunately my injury cut short my career, but I'm a big believer
that these things happen for a reason

"If that was the reason for me to get into coaching, and hopefully
management, earlier than I imagined then so be it."
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