Friday 21 June 2019

More to football than having a nice watch and car - Coleman questions attitude of young Premier League players

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman at yesterday’s launch with Theo Horan (5) from Mullingar
Ireland captain Seamus Coleman at yesterday’s launch with Theo Horan (5) from Mullingar

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Seamus Coleman celebrated a significant birthday last October when he turned 30. This October he celebrates another milestone: 10 years since his first-team debut for Everton.

In that time he's become a Premier League regular, also become the Ireland captain and seen off challengers to his right-back slot with club and country, even managing to keep the impressive Matt Doherty at bay when it comes to the green shirt.

Surviving 10 years in the toughest league in the world is no mean feat and the Donegal man admits that when he looks around a Premier League world where Instagram followers and retweets are deemed paramount, he fears that the new generation of footballers lack the drive needed to succeed.

Coleman noted comments by Irish team-mate Conor Hourihane last week where he lambasted the attitude of fame-hungry but work-shy young players who spend more time playing table tennis or pool than on the training ground.

"I actually read that interview with Conor. I thought it was brilliant. He is right. The game's changing," says Coleman, who looks back on his own career and says he didn't deserve to make the Ireland squad for Euro 2012 as he was "terrible for Everton" that season.

"There are so many different personalities but I do think that drive probably isn't the same any more in kids, probably because they're getting rewarded for not really doing quite a lot.

"They can be sorted for life before they even played 10 Premier League games. I think that's wrong. I don't think that's fair on the young players.

"They're not going to turn it down and you wouldn't blame them. The whole idea of being a footballer for me is to play in the Premier League. It's not to have a nice car or have a nice watch. That comes with it, if that's what you're into.

"But it's to be a Premier League footballer, to be as good as you can be. There will still be some young kids who have that desire but I do think they are given far too much too soon. And it doesn't help them because even if you don't play on a Saturday you're still picking up a nice wage and living a nice life."

So why, then, do some make it while others are seduced by bling and end up in League One at 21? "I think with the lads breaking through into the Premier League at an early age, they have something special about them because I think it is getting harder and harder to break into Premier League teams."

Coleman has words of encouragement for a forgotten man, backing team-mate with club and country, James McCarthy, to re-emerge as a vital figure for Ireland. "He'll probably be trying to get out [of Everton], there's no secret of that. He needs a fresh start," says Coleman, who texted McCarthy on Monday to remind him that he still had a role to play.

One man who is doing something right is Matt Doherty, a key figure in the Premier League for Wolves, but for whom international football is a frustration as he was an unused sub in both qualifiers over the last week. Doherty insists that it was possible for him and Coleman to play in the side with Ireland even though McCarthy admitted the Coleman/Doherty axis on the right didn't work in Gibraltar.

"I know the manager did say that, but Matt's a top player and showed it this year," says Coleman. "I think there's a lot of talk that it didn't really work in Gibraltar but I wouldn't massively think that it didn't work. Not a lot did go right on the night, but I wouldn't say we were the worst two players linking up on the pitch, and if the manager sees that in the future then it would be great to try it out.

"Just speaking on Matt's character, he's been in for three weeks and I was with him on Monday night. He didn't play in two of the games - and after the season he's had you think there might be a bit of a chip on his shoulder but he's been fully supportive of me and the lads."

  • SPAR Ambassador Seamus Coleman was on hand to launch SPAR's new SPAR Better Choices Low Fat Protein Milk and Mega Milk. In his role as a SPAR ambassador for SPAR Better Choices, Seamus is encouraging healthier choices on-the-go, and at home, with SPAR

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