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Cole story Seamus Coleman on homesickness and making sacrifices to realise his dreams

Ireland captains opens up on the challenges he faced after moving to England

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 Seamus Coleman poses for a photo after signing a new Everton contact.  (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Seamus Coleman poses for a photo after signing a new Everton contact. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Seamus Coleman poses for a photo after signing a new Everton contact. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

AS Séamus Coleman sat in his humble Liverpool flat as a lonely 21-year-old, he refused to contemplate any failure in his Premier League dream.

Plunged into a world that was so different from his home in Killybegs in Donegal, young Coleman needed strength of mind, as well as dedication, to develop his raw talents if he was to fight his way through the Everton ranks into the big time.

This was a period when Premier League academies had started to hoard young talent in the hope that one or two might make it through to a first-team squad dominated by big-money signings.

The odds of a young Irishman succeeding in this environment were slim at best.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, the Ireland and Everton captain has given us an insight into the mindset required to succeed.

This is the story of a boy who put his homesickness and loneliness aside to reach for the stars, with his words here a blueprint for all Irish youngsters if they get a chance to shine in the most competitive league in world football.

Next weekend, Coleman is set to play his 300th Premier League game when Everton start their campaign under new manager Rafael Benitez against Southampton, with his story an inspiration to all.

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Seamus Coleman poses for a photo with manager Rafael Benitez after signing new contract with Everton.  (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Seamus Coleman poses for a photo with manager Rafael Benitez after signing new contract with Everton. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Seamus Coleman poses for a photo with manager Rafael Benitez after signing new contract with Everton. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

“When I went over to England first, it was tough,” began Coleman, speaking to us as a SPAR ambassador.

“I missed my family and you have to fight through the loneliness until you find your feet.

“Rachel, who is now my wife, was studying in Dublin and I couldn’t see much of her. You spend your life training in the day and going back to a flat on your own for the rest of it.

“It can be hard, but I was always very driven to make the most of the opportunity that had come my way.

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“Living in an apartment on your own in a country where you don’t know anyone is tough, especially when you are at that stage of your career where you are trying to break through, and you are never sure whether that first-team chance will come your way.

“Yet nothing took my attention away from the job I wanted to do,” Coleman admitted.

“I wasn’t there to go out at night and have fun. I was there to work hard in the day at training, and then get ready to do the same the next day. That was the focus I felt I needed to reach the top.

“I wanted to be a professional footballer and nothing was going to take my eye off that. Skipping the high life was a small sacrifice to make.

“When I started out in football, I was excited just to get into the Sligo Rovers first-team,” he revealed.

“That was the height of my ambition – to try and get into their team and see if I could do well at that level. Then you get a chance to come to England and you set yourself new goals.

“My attitude then is the same as it is now – try to be better today than I was yesterday.

“It’s a pretty simple ambition, but it has always served me well throughout my career.”

They are comments that shed a light on the mindset Coleman has brought to his career – a career that has brought him fame and fortune, even if they have never been the forces that have driven him.

The riches that come with being a Premier League footballer ensure his wife Rachel and children Lily (5), Ellie (3) and four-month-old Blake are financially secure for life.

But, then, Coleman has never been the type to be motivated to live a lavish lifestyle.

A stable family set-up has allowed him to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground during his 12 seasons as an Everton first-team star, with his role as an elder statesman and leader adding to his achievements in recent years.

“I like being a captain and, in that role, there are times when you take young players aside and give them some guidance,” he said.

“That’s our job as older players. Not to tell them how to run their lives, but just to give them a little bit of a steer – what they need to do to stay focused on, and that has to be their jobs and their families.

“If I can do anything with the Everton or Ireland lads to keep them grounded and give them a little bit of advice here and there, I will always try to do it.”

Coleman speaks with a maturity that suggests a career as a coach and manager may beckon when his career finally comes to an end.

However, he admits he could walk away from the game when the time comes for him to hang up the playing boots.

“I’m doing my coaching badges at the moment and I have enjoyed doing them, but I could easily disappear back to Donegal with the family and not have too much to do with football,” he added.

“If that happens, I will miss football, don’t get me wrong, because I love it. That love for football has never faded for me through the years.

“I go in every day and I love it. I’m grateful that I am able to work in this profession and I love working hard in training every day.

“Will I go into management? I honestly don’t know. I’ve worked under a lot of great managers, all very different in the way they do things, and you learn something from each one of them.

“If I went into coaching and management, I’d take what I have seen from each of them with me into that job, soak up all the information each one brings, and try to blend it all together for when you become a coach or a manager.

“I see a lot of players saying life after football can be a scary thought, but it doesn’t frighten me at all.

“I’m not going to miss the feeling of being a footballer. It won’t leave a void in my life. It doesn’t scare me at all.”

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Seamus Coleman is a SPAR ambassador

Seamus Coleman is a SPAR ambassador

Seamus Coleman is a SPAR ambassador

SPAR Better Choices ambassador Séamus Coleman has launched SPAR’s Better Choices summer 2021 campaign. SPAR has also created a specially curated online hub at www.spar.ie/betterchoices.

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