Coleman hopes to make cut this time


The Everton player watched Euro 2012 from a Killybegs hostelry but has realistic hopes of starting against Germany on Friday, writes MARY HANNIGAN

AFTER A season interrupted by injuries and then a struggle to regain his place in the Everton team, having had so impressive a previous campaign he was nominated for 2011 PFA Young Player of the Year award, it wasn’t the greatest of shocks to Séamus Coleman when he failed to make the cut for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad.

Still, “it was very disappointing, to be honest,” he admits, the omission coming just 15 months after Giovanni Trapattoni gave him his senior international debut, the excitement about his prospects then so heightened it was hard to imagine him ever being excluded again.

Instead, he spent the tournament as he had previous ones, watching it as a supporter.

“Aye, I watched it in my Ireland jersey in the pub with all my mates. We were all down in the local pub, Fawltys in Killybegs. It was like 2002 again, I was a fan. It was a bit different this time because I knew the lads. But I enjoyed it. I would rather have been out there, of course, but I was supporting the lads like everyone else.

“Everyone wanted to be picked in the 23, but it wasn’t to be. I got to rest up over the summer after a few injuries last year and I have started this season off alright with Everton.

“Hopefully I will get another chance to reach a major tournament with Ireland. That’s my aim now, that’s my drive, because everyone wants to play in a major tournament for their country.”

How many in Fawltys came up and said you should have been in squad?

“Everyone,” he laughs, although he wondered, with a grin, if they were all as supportive behind his back. “It’s luck. These things happen. The manager can only take 23. I was unfortunate, but I’m not going to moan about it. I’ve just got to get on with it now.”

Coleman, 24 on Thursday, missed out on another major occasion this year he might well have been involved in if he’d chosen a different sporting path, but he has “no regrets”.

As a promising young Gaelic footballer he had to choose between committing to the Donegal minor team and pursuing his soccer ambitions with Sligo Rovers.

“I picked Sligo and I never, ever regretted that decision because I’ve been lucky with the life I picked,” he says. “I get to play in the Premier League and I get to play for my country. I’m very happy, but the lads who play for Donegal deserve enormous credit because of the work they put in.”

“I’m a massive Donegal fan and I keep in touch with the lads, there was no happier man to see them win. They’ve been a great inspiration for everyone in the county. Michael Murphy is a great captain and for the young people in Donegal there’s no one better to look up to, he’s a great role model.”

What of those rumours about Donegal manager Jim McGuinness joining the Liverpool staff?

“I’d rather he came to Everton. I’ll have a word with him,” he laughs. “Yeah, I read that online, I don’t know how true it is. I spoke to Jim a few times and, honestly, he’s a great, great man. You can see the love he has for football and sport, it’s something else. It would be great if he got a role with one of the football clubs, he could turn his hand to it, no problem. It’s the type of man he is.

“I think two years ago there’s no way Donegal would have won the All-Ireland without him, he’s changed all the players. He’s got something special about him. I played against a few of them, Mark McHugh and Paddy McBrearty, they’re with the rival club 10 minutes away. And there’s Michael Murphy and Karl Lacey. Ah, you’d know them all, they’re all close by and all good lads. I’m delighted for them.”

For now, though, Coleman’s sporting focus is on convincing Trapattoni that he’s the man for the right-back slot for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Germany.

“He has tried me out there in the friendly games, like against Oman, so I have to see if I impressed him. That’s all I can do. I hope being back in the Everton team has helped, but Ireland is a hard team to get in. It would be brilliant to get the nod for Germany, but you have Stephen Kelly there and Paul McShane fighting for that position too, so it is not going to be easy.”

Germany, the second ranked team in the world, any hope? “It’s not going to be easy, they’re a great team, but every underdog has his day. If the fans get behind us, I think a positive result would be a draw – but you never know what can happen. It’s still 11 against 11.”

He won’t be watching the game in Fawltys in Killybegs, but he’ll hope he won’t be watching it from the bench either. But if he is, he’ll be a fan in his jersey.

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