Wednesday 21 August 2019

'He is a man possessed': Martin O'Neill explains exactly how Seamus Coleman changes when he puts on the captain's armband

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Martin O’Neill believes that Seamus Coleman is a natural fit as Republic of Ireland captain.

Coleman, in action for Everton in the Merseyside derby tonight, was handed the armband by O’Neill for the last group game at Euro 2016 and was confirmed as team skipper on a permanent basis at the start of the 2018 World Cup campaign, and the Ireland boss has seen Donegal native Coleman grow into the role.

“It’s a natural process for him," O’Neill said in an interview which will be shown on Eir Sport tonight (8.30pm).

"I wouldn't want to give him the captaincy and say to him there are a number of things he needs to try and please me with. He got the captaincy because of who he was.

"I think if you are around about players for a couple of weeks, their attitude off the field as much as anything else, their influence, good or bad, over a group of players, leadership qualities, if some of them possess that: I think those sort of things do come to the fore in someone's demeanour and attitude towards life, never mind football, and I think that sometimes I think that the way you perform on the field might mirror the way you approach life and sometimes it doesn't.

“Sometimes great, great players on the pitch are not the best off the pitch. I think talent is very important, I think attitude is essential and if you have got a combination of these things, then you are in business,”O’Neill added.

“Seamus Coleman is quiet by nature. He comes in here, he'd be very well mannered. Take him onto the field now and he is a man possessed. I think it [the captaincy] is just something he desired. He has taken it to a great level and his performances for both club and country, regardless of whether or not he is captain at Everton, it seems as if his game has improved because of this extra responsibility he has."

*Martin O’Neill interview airs on Eir Sport 1 tonight (Monday) at 8.30pm.

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