Proud Coleman ranks qualification as career highlight
In the minutes after the final whistle on Monday night, the expression on Seamus Coleman's face said everything.
As the Irish team embarked upon its lap of honour, the Donegal native visibly had to gather himself as he savoured the moment.
"Even talking about it now, I'm still getting butterflies," said Coleman yesterday, pausing to chat with reporters in the hotel lobby in Castleknock. "I said it to my wife coming down in the lift there, it's still a bit surreal and I don't know when it'll sink in. It was a special moment. When Jonny's second goal went in, I was nearly close to tears.
"It was one of those moments, something I wanted all my life. It's hard put into words. Being a fan and growing up watching Ireland, everyone knows how much the country gets behind the team so to be a part of that build-up is something else."
The Everton full-back, who showcased his defensive composure in the two legs with Bosnia, confessed that he had worried about the direction of Ireland's campaign following the June draw with Scotland.
"There have been some dark days," he acknowledged. "When we got beaten away in Scotland it was tough to take and then when we drew with Scotland at home you're thinking you don't know which way this is going to go but we kept believing.
"I was a bit low for a while after that game. It was out of our hands - Scotland had it in their hands - but I did firmly believe they'd struggle in Georgia because we found it tough there and thankfully they did."
Coleman missed both games against Germany through injury and immediately sought out Cyrus Christie after the final whistle to let him know that he should be proud of his contribution to the mission too.
"I thought he was fantastic against Germany," said the 27-year-old. "And David Meyler away to Germany when he played right-back. Everyone has been a part of it. The spirit from day one has been brilliant and that's down to the management."
The League of Ireland graduate missed out on the last Euros and says he has no hard feelings about it. He will be safely on the plane this time around and would like Everton to have four representatives although he knows that Aiden McGeady and Darron Gibson will probably need to get involved more regularly at club level to make that ambition realistic. "That's between the lads and the gaffer at our place and Martin O'Neill," he stressed. "It's not my business."
Understandably enough, he wanted to focus on positive moments. It was, he admitted, the best feeling of his career to date. "I can't think of anything better," he said.