Coleman: Domestic stars need to prove themselves abroad
Ireland captain pleased Burke’s form was recognised but believes he needs Preston move
Seamus Coleman in action for Ireland against the USA. ‘The national team needs more players in the Premier League and Championship.’ Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Well aware of his roots, Seamus Coleman gives the impression of a man who retains some affection for the League of Ireland but the Everton man believes players such as Graham Burke have to take their chances in the Championship if they hope to make more of an impact on the international stage.
“Hearing Graham is going over is bad for the league but I’m delighted he gets to show what he can do over there,” says Coleman of the midfielder who was on course yesterday to complete a €300,000 move to Preston North End just days after scoring in his second game for Ireland.
“Straight away the recognition becomes a lot more. The national team needs more players in the Premier League and Championship.
“I’d love to sit here and say you don’t need to make the step, but it’s such a difficult one.They’re the same player in the league as they are when they go over, but it’s just proving yourself against that higher opposition; it makes the manager’s job or his mind up a little bit easier.
“It’s alright coming in and getting a few caps, I know people want to see the lads do well in the league, but I want to see lads go over and be really successful for themselves as well.”
He also, he says, wants to see Irish clubs do much better out of the deals that seal their players’ departures and, after so many heading away for next to nothing, feels the reported fee in Burke’s case is getting a little closer to what it should be given the quality of the players involved.
“What is it, 300 [thousand]?” he asks. “That’s what I think needs to be. They are getting players on the cheap. You see League One players going for millions. Obviously with me it was 60 grand, okay that’s going back nine years, but I would like to see players go for more than what they are.”
Coleman was speaking at a Spar-sponsored event to promote their “Better Choices” campaign.
His move from Sligo Rovers has become one of the most celebrated bits of business ever done by a Premier League team and the Irish man’s prolonged absence through injury last year only seemed to underline how important he had become, both to his club and his country.
Without him, Everton’s start to the season cost their manager his job while Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup were blown away as Denmark ran riot in the second leg of their play-off. Both, he says, prompted feelings of guilt despite the fact that he knows he was blameless in the incident that caused his injury and helpless to do more than focus on making a complete recovery from a broken leg.
“Massively,” he says, “it’s so true, especially the Denmark game. Throughout my whole injury that was probably the hardest night because I was so gutted and felt a fully-fit me could have made a difference.
“It was heartbreaking to see James McClean afterwards, he was in bits. You feel the guilt even though you shouldn’t. At Everton, I felt guilty when Ronald Koeman lost his job. I felt I could have helped had I been around.
“Nowadays, with a lot of players, it’s probably a case of one comes and one goes but I give my all to every manager so I felt guilty. And he showed great commitment by flying over to Donegal when I got the injury, as did Martin O’Neill.”
He never believed, he says, that his career was threatened by the injury but the experience has nevertheless left him a much greater enthusiasm for every game and training session “and I already really loved the game”, he says.
It is a sort of silver lining, he suggests, that James McCarthy might take from his own absence through injury while seeing the joy that Alan Judge experienced on Saturday at successfully completing the long journey back.
“Unfortunately for Judgey he had a few quite tough months and I was so, so happy for him to score the other night,” he says. “I can’t explain how happy I was for him. He’s probably had people really doubting whether he would come back. It was what, two years maybe, so to show that strength of character and to look so well; he looked so much better than he did in Turkey, he’ll tell you that himself.
“And to see him score, you could see the celebration; it was just a friendly but the celebration was for Judgey more than anything else because it was just so good to see.”