Sport Soccer

Saturday 16 December 2017

Coleman hoping for the perfect birthday present

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

SEAMUS Coleman celebrates his 24th birthday on Thursday -- and the perfect present would be a place in the starting line up against Germany on Friday night.

Everton defender-cum-midfielder Coleman can only let Giovanni Trapattoni ruminate on his form in the recent friendly against Oman, and also for the Goodison Park club.

After that it's fingers crossed for the news that would truly be the icing on the birthday cake. How tough is that going to be? Well, Coleman appreciates that seniority and greater experience rests with right-back candidates Stephen Kelly and Paul McShane, but it doesn't stop him hoping for the best.

The absence of Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger means a reshuffle at the heart of the backline, with John O'Shea and Darren O'Dea likely to operate in that sector and opening the way for vacancies on the flanks.

"It would be brilliant to get the nod (at right-back), but you have Stephen Kelly there who has played a lot of times for Ireland and who is at Fulham," Coleman said. "You have Paul McShane fighting for that position too so it is not going to be easy to get in."

Perhaps the X-factor could yet work in Coleman's favour. After all, he has enjoyed a massive few weeks in relation to his status at Everton, and also by association with the Donegal GAA team and Sligo Rovers.

David Moyes has employed the Donegal native in his favourite right-back position as Everton zoomed up the table to fourth place. That's just one point behind Man Utd and City -- second and third respectively -- and only five adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Donegal, of course, set the county alight with joy when they brought Sam Maguire back to the Hills, and Sligo Rovers, who sold Coleman to Everton, are on the cusp of winning the Airtricity Premier Division.

It's quite a turnaround from the disappointment of failing to make the cut for the 23 Republic players who travelled to Poland for the European Championships last summer.

Coleman revealed he did actually get to wear the green jersey for the Irish matches -- but only as a fan watching among the hordes gathered at Fawlty's Bar in his home town of Killybegs.

"It was very disappointing, to be honest. Everyone wanted to be picked in the 23, but it wasn't to be," he said.

"I watched it at home in the pub in Ireland with all my mates. We were all down in the local pub watching it.

"It was like 2002 (World Cup) again. It was a bit different because you knew the lads. I would rather have been out there, of course.

"Hopefully I will get another chance to get to a major tournament with Ireland. That's my aim now, my drive, because everyone wants to play in a major tournament for their country."

As he is just turning 24 this week, and with his innate athleticism and eye for a ball, you wonder if he could have seen himself in Croke Park as part of that Donegal team?

After all, he did play Gaelic football for Killybegs, and there was a choice to be made at one stage as to soldier with Donegal minors or go to Sligo Rovers.

"I'm a massive Donegal fan and keep in touch with the lads, and there's no happier man to see them win.

"They've been a big inspiration for everyone in Donegal. Michael Murphy is a great captain and for the young people in Donegal, he's a great role model, someone to look up to.

"I'm happy as a fan but this is my dream, to be a Premier League footballer and it was probably Michael and the lads' dream to win an All-Ireland. I'm delighted for them.

"When I came to minor level I had to choose between Sligo and Donegal, so I picked Sligo and I never, ever regretted that decision because I've been lucky with the life I picked.

"I get to play in the Premier League and I get to play for my country. I'm very happy, but the lads who play for Donegal deserve a lot of credit because of the work they put in.

"No, I'm happy and I'm sure they're happy as well."

Coleman will also be keeping tabs on Rovers as they bid to get across the line and take home league honours.

"I think they'll do it. It would be great to see. Sligo's a great town, a great soccer town and they love it up there.

"I have great connections from my time there. My family still go to some of the games so I'd love to see them win. I think they deserve it for the football they've played over the last two years," said Coleman.

Will we see a return to the green jersey by Everton team-mate Darron Gibson, who opted out in frustration at getting no game time at the Euros?

"That's Darron Gibson's decision," said Coleman. "He was obviously disappointed that he didn't get to play at the Euros which is understandable, but his decision is his decision and there is nothing I can do to change his mind. Hopefully we will get him back soon."

Irish Independent

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