Thursday 22 August 2019

Seamus Coleman: 'I'd be gutted if we don't qualify for Euro 2016 finals'

Seamus Coleman missed out on a spot in the Euro 2012 squad
Seamus Coleman missed out on a spot in the Euro 2012 squad

Liam Kelly

Seamus Coleman is chasing a dream that can define his career - qualification for a major championships.

The window of opportunity is open for the Everton and Republic of Ireland defender, so it's a case of 'carpe diem' - seize the day - against Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Coleman, 28, missed out on Euro 2012 but France 2016 is tantalisingly close and whatever else he may achieve in the game, the softly spoken Donegal native does not want to finish playing without a finals on his CV.

If that should happen, Coleman would feel unfulfilled.

"I'd be gutted," he said. "I don't want to finish without playing for Ireland at a big tournament.

"I'm playing but I'm a fan, and I want my friends to be out there supporting me, my town to be supporting me and it's something that I want to do.

"All the lads will be doing all we can to get there. If we can all just put in a proper shift for the two games, everyone work hard for each other, help each other, I really think we can do it."

Modern players are often accused of being overly sensitive when they don't get their way. How refreshing, then, to hear blunt honesty from Coleman when he admitted he did not feel a place in Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for Euro 2012 was justified, even though many felt he should have been included.

"If the tournament had been a year earlier, then yeah, I should have been there," he said.

"I had done quite well when I broke through, but in my second season I was playing right midfield, I had quite a few injuries, and my form wasn't the best.

"Had I been playing at right-back for my club, then I'd like to think I had a better chance.

"I had no complaints, but a year earlier, maybe I should have been there," he said.

Coleman has been capped 30 times so far, but missed out on the glory night at the Aviva against Germany due to a hamstring injury.

Was it a a regret to miss out on a famous victory against the Germans?

"Yeah, of course. You want to play against the best players.

"I've played through pain barriers in the past and if I can play I will play. Unfortunately I wasn't right.

"It would have been a great decision if we went to Poland and had got something from the game. It was disappointing to miss out on but hopefully I'll have many big days in the Ireland team.

"Sometimes you just can't do anything, especially with hamstring injuries. If you get a kick in the ankle or in the knee you can play through it easy. But with a hamstring you basically can't run. It doesn't let you," he said.

He returned to the Irish side for the away game with Poland, but the hoped-for repeat performance did not materialise.

"Look, we were on a massive high but we did know it would be tough.

"They have [Robert] Lewandowski, and he scored a great header, but we feel like we could have done a lot better than we did.

"Poland were there for the taking and we just conceded at the wrong time.

"Coming home on the plane we'd guaranteed the play-off spot, which everyone would have took before, but everyone was massively, massively disappointed," he said.

The Polish experience has been consigned to the past. All that matters now is Bosnia & Herzegovina, and putting one over on Everton club-mate Muhamed 'Mo' Besic.

Besic has not played many games with Everton due to injury.

He is also suspended for the first leg, and will be available for the return match at the Aviva Stadium next Monday.

In these circumstances some good-natured ribbing might take place, or perhaps a bet would be placed with the loser buying lunch or dinner.

That's not Coleman's way, particularly with the stakes so high for him personally and professionally.

"I'm quite a serious person, and this is a little bit too serious for joking around. That's just the way I am.

"He's a top player. I'd rather he was out of the team than in the team. It's good for us that he's missing the first leg. He's a combative midfielder and he likes to get on the ball as well.

"It's a boost for us, but we just have to turn up ourselves and try and get the job done," said Coleman.

Irish Independent

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