Coleman: ‘I never doubted for a second that I’d get back playing football’

Republic of Ireland captain will return to international football against Turkey

Séamus Coleman says that he was always confident that he would overcome the injury setback he suffered a year ago and return the same player he had been for both Everton and Ireland.

The Donegal man is set to captain his country again on his return to international duty against Turkey in Antalya on Friday night (5.30pm Irish time) although, typically, the full back said he was not taking his return for granted.

“It never crossed my mind from day one or any way through the injury,” he said when asked about the possibility that Neil Taylor’s tackle on him in last year’s scoreless draw against Wales in Dublin might have ended his career. “I knew if I did everything I was told and the work I needed to do in the gym that I’d be back in the football pitch.

“I’m back now for five or six weeks and feel good in the games and hopefully I can do the same in the Irish shirt. I never doubted for a second that I’d get back playing football.”

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Martin O’Neill suggested that Coleman’s presence over the tail-end of the qualifying campaign might just have made the difference required to get Ireland to the World Cup but, he said, he and the team are lucky to have the 29-year-old back now.

“I’m delighted to see him back,” said the manager. “I sometimes think he doesn’t know himself how influential he is, not only in the dressingroom but out on the field of play, which is the main part.

“I think it almost goes without saying that we missed him. Had he been fit, I think we may have made it, who knows? But he certainly would have given us a much better opportunity. I’ve said to him, I’d rather say it when he’s not in the room, he’s an absolutely world-class player.

“You talk about someone with a leg break getting back, but even when we saw him in the hospital in the first few nights, when he was really down, you felt that with his determination he would get through. That’s just his character. We as a group are delighted, the players are and the management team very much so. If he can stay clear from serious injury, who knows what lies in store for him in the next couple of years?”

O’Neill looks set to have a full squad for Friday’s game which is expected to attract more or less a full house to the 33,000 capacity Antalya Arena.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times