Tuesday 24 September 2019

'I'll watch Danes and be thinking that could be us'

Coleman admits to 'guilt' over injury-enforced absense

Seamus Coleman gets ready to tuck into some healthy eating with Sophie Bracken (5) and Alex Donoghue (6) at the launch of SPAR's Better Choices summer recipes. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Seamus Coleman gets ready to tuck into some healthy eating with Sophie Bracken (5) and Alex Donoghue (6) at the launch of SPAR's Better Choices summer recipes. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The physical pain suffered when he broke his leg while on World Cup duty with Ireland 15 months ago has long since cleared for Seamus Coleman.

But the mental agony of missing out on a trip to Russia 2018 will only intensify for the national team captain once the event kicks off next week, particularly on Saturday week when Denmark play their first game of the tournament.

And the Everton player admits to a feeling of "guilt" over his inability, due to injury, to help get Ireland to the World Cup finals and prevent Ronald Koeman from losing his job as Everton boss.

Coleman will watch (or try to watch) the opening phase of the World Cup finals while on a family holiday in Spain next week, though with two children under the age of three, precisely how much time he'll get to watch football remains to be seen.


He admits to being torn over certain issues, like supporting the English. "I hope my (Everton) team-mates do well but I don't want England to be winning it, no," he says, also with mixed feelings on Denmark, Ireland's conquerors in the play-offs.

"It's a nightmare. I don't know whether I want them to win or do I want them to lose, I don't know what I want.

"I'll be watching the games thinking, 'that could be us'. It's disappointing but it's done now and I'll probably be talking about it in 10 years' time. It's done and we've got to look to the future now, the likes of Declan (Rice), the Euro campaign, the Nations League and try to keep improving.

"After the Denmark game, the disappointment was there for all to see in the changing-room. You go back to your club, I was trying to get fit and get back in the Everton team, so the disappointment eases a little bit as you are not in the moment.

"But then when the World Cup draw and the excitement of it all starts, you realise, even now, how big it is and how disappointed you really are not to be there."

Ireland's World Cup bid started well but fell off the rails and the serious injury the team captain sustained against Wales, which led to a 10-month absence from the game, was a big factor in the campaign turning sour.

"Throughout my whole injury that (Denmark at home) was probably the hardest night because I was so gutted and I felt a fully-fit me could have made a difference," he says.

"At Everton, I felt guilty when Ronald Koeman lost his job. I felt I could have helped had I been around. I don't like seeing people losing their jobs. I give my all to every manager, so I felt guilty."

Coleman says he still has some fine-tuning to do before he gets back to his pre-injury performances.

"I still need that little of bit of quality in the final third. I had five or six chances at Everton that I should have done better with.

"Even the one for Ireland that I shanked, usually I'm a bit more composed in those areas.

"That little bit of sharpness is something I'm looking forward to coming back. I've no doubt that it will," he says, still eager to prove wrong those who doubted his ability to come back.

"I remember when I was injured, you'd see, ex-players saying, 'ah, it will be difficult to come back'. Nobody was saying anything wrong, it was just a topic of conversation but it would still have you saying to yourself, 'I'll be back and I'll show everyone that I'll be back'.

"No one ever said anything nasty but to me it was fuel to make you want even more to get back and show people."

A target is a first trophy with Everton and he's enthused by the arrival of new boss Marco Silva but with Ireland, he has Euro 2020 in his sights.

"There will be that transition period but with the manager in charge, I have no doubt that we will be competitive."

Irish Independent

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