EXCLUSIVE - Seamus Coleman interview
SEAMUS COLEMAN hopes his success story can be an inspiration to the next generation of Irish internationals – but he admits the challenge of making a breakthrough in England’s Premier League has never been tougher for our stars of tomorrow.
Coleman’s rise from St Catherine’s FC to Sligo Rovers and on to the Everton first team was completed as he was named in the Premier League team of the year last season, with the 26-year-old’s sparkling displays seeing him linked with mega-money moves to Manchester United and Arsenal.
Elevation to the Republic of Ireland senior team was a natural progression for the Donegal-born full-back along the road and he has told the Sunday World that his story should offer hope to kids in this country who fear the door to the Premier League is being slammed shut by big-money foreign imports.
“I’d like to think that my story can help young kids that are starting out in the game because kids in Ireland have to go the long way about getting into a Premier League club,” begins Coleman, who was rejected by then Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, among others, before he got his big break at Everton in 2009.
“Irish lads need someone to come over and scout them and then you hope one of the clubs in England will give you a chance. It is getting harder and harder to break through and I had a few knock-backs along the way from clubs that looked at me and said ‘no’.
“That was hard to take at the time, but I kept plugging away and, thankfully, it worked out for me. The disappointments I suffered along the way were one of the reasons why I was so determined to make a success of this move to Everton when it happened.
“I knew what I wanted the minute I got here. I had to take this chance and I was desperate to get into the first team. Well, I managed to do that and I stayed there.
“You just have to hope someone is willing to give you a chance in this game and if you have the right attitude and give it everything you’ve got, you can go a long way. Thankfully things have worked out for me, but I know how tough it is for kids back home to make the breakthrough these days.”
Coleman’s feel-good story is not just restricted to his success on the field, as it seems he has not allowed his celebrity status to affect him when he returns back to his hometown, where he feels comfortable.
“When I go back home, life is normal,” he continues. “I grew up in Killybegs, which is a small town in Donegal, and everyone knows me as Seamie. There is no idea that they treat me differently because I’m a Premier League footballer. I get home and I can chill out there, no one bothers me.
“Where I come from, you don’t have time for any celebrity mindset. I grew up playing football with all the lads who are still back home and when I see them, they are my pals.
“That is one of the reasons why I enjoy my time back home so much. The people in Killybegs wish me well and they are all delighted for me, but they don’t treat me any different and that’s the way I like it.”
We haven’t had enough Colemans bursting through the ranks in this country over recent years and we can be grateful that this ‘boy done good’ is also a clean-cut role model that any Irish youngster dreaming of forging a Premier League career can aspire to emulate.