Wednesday 22 November 2017

Coleman embracing senior responsibility

Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Four years ago, Giovanni Trapattoni didn't feel that Seamus Coleman was ready to be brought to a European Championship finals.

Earlier this week, Roy Keane cited him as one of the professionals that leads the rest of the group by example.

Clearly, something has changed in the intervening period. The charming aspect of Coleman's rise from Sligo Rovers to Everton meant that he was always discussed in the context of what was to come down the tracks.

The right-back was bracketed as a young player for the future when he was actually in his mid-20s; his late arrival on the English scene by Irish standards contributed to that line of thinking. He turns 28 later this year and knows his time is now.

In the play-off with Bosnia, his experience shone through as he curbed his attacking tendencies when necessary. It's been a tough campaign at Everton but, in an Ireland shirt, there are signs his role is evolving.

It appears his approach is impressing Keane who name-checked Coleman, Jon Walters and Glenn Whelan as standard bearers on the training ground.

"When I came into Ireland as a young lad, maybe I was quieter or whatever, but when I train, I go out to give my all," he stresses. "That's the minimum you have to give every week.

"As the years have gone on, I have become a bit more vocal but I just try and do my best. If lads see that as leading by example then so be it. I just do what comes naturally."

Coleman still has a wide circle of friends from Killybegs that will be making the journey to France. Anecdotal tales are surfacing of a giant flag bearing his image that might well make its presence felt in the fanfare that surrounds the games.

If life had taken a different path, he would have been there with them and he has the social media facility to keep up to date with their progress.

He accepts there is a point where he has to try and find the right balance and switch off from potential distractions.

"I've sorted out my tickets already and I am sure there will be a bit of hype going over," he says. "I might have to get off Snapchat but it will be nice to see some of it as well because, if you could cut yourself in half, then half of you would want to be there as a player and another half as a fan.

"We're the lucky ones. We're fans on the pitch. We want to make everyone proud and not just go there and come back and say 'aw, we had a hard group'. That's not what you want. You want to get out of the group and make memories for yourself like a lot of Irish players have in the past."

Coleman is self aware enough to realise that his rallying call sounds like the kind of thing players routinely trot out. He asserts that his confidence is authentic, with an eye to the June 13 opener with Sweden.

"I can't see why we can't do well in this group," he says. "We have to come and speak to youse (press) and say all the right things but I genuinely believe that.

"It's all well and good me saying it to you lads, but we have to go out and do it. Hopefully we can and make a memory for ourselves."

Irish Independent

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