Charlton manager Iain Dowie is relishing the tactical battle with his old friend Chris Coleman at Fulham on Monday night.

The two coaches have built up a close bond following the spell they had together as players at Crystal Palace back in the mid-1990s.

Both men have kept in touch since, with former Wales defender Coleman, 36, moving into coaching and then management at Craven Cottage following what would prove to be a career-ending leg injury suffered in an horrific car accident in 2001.

“I remember when I turned up at the Palace training ground on my first day and pulled up in the car park,” Dowie recalled. “Chris was just walking in and turned around to me and said: ‘Blimey, it is about time you got here!’

We were very good friends when we were at Palace – but we fought like cat and dog on the pitch when we were playing against each other and had one or two little scuffles in training.”

Dowie continued: “Chris is a real leader and was a very good player, with lots of pace who was very composed on the ball.

“He was just a great to have around the place, and is the type of lad you would go to war with – he would be standing beside you.

“Anything he does, he does with his heart on his sleeve.

“Chris has got lots of good qualities and I have got a lot of time for him.

“Socially, I have had some great times with him as well.

“Chris is a larger-than-life character, and but for a horrendous injury may have gone on to achieve lots more as a player.”

Dowie, 41, feels Coleman deserves great credit for the way he has carved out a new career in coaching after his playing days were brought to a premature end, the Cottagers turning to the Welshman as the permanent successor to Jean Tigana in May 2003.

The Charlton manager said: “Chris has come back and he keeps himself ticking over with a certain level of fitness.

“He fought hard to get there and is on a whole new chapter in his career. He is doing well for himself.”

There will, however, be little place for sentiment come kick-off tomorrow night.

Dowie said: “I have got lots of time for Chris and I would like to see him do well after Monday.

“I am not one of those who wishes misfortune on other people, you want to take care of your own business.

“Chris is doing that and I am sure he will have a good season.”

The Addicks boss quipped: “But I hope we go there and give him a little kick if we can – to give him one back for all of the times he kicked me.”