Séamus Coleman supports James McClean in poppy issue
Ireland captain says he has no problem himself with wearing the poppy on his shirt
Ireland captain Seamus Coleman says he understands James McClean’s issue with wearing a poppy. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Republic of Ireland skipper Séamus Coleman says that he completely respects James McClean’s annual stand on the issue of the poppy and believes others should do the same but insists that the wearing of the emblem does not cause any discomfort whatsoever for him.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I feel uncomfortable with it,” says the 30-year-old who, like just about every other Premier League player, regardless of their nationality, wore a shirt emblazoned with the symbol when they played over the weekend. “I’ve not really been brought up with the history of it. James is from Creggan and it’s quite close to him and his beliefs. It should be respected.
“I don’t know if there are other players who feel pressured into it but if there are, you would like to think they would not feel pressured into it. For me personally, though, it’s not something that is as close as it is to James.”
One of the most remarkable aspects of the annual controversy over McClean’s refusal to wear one has been the abuse he has come in for from his own clubs’ fans and the Derryman’s willingness not only to put up with that but to engage in a very public war of words when he feels the need to defend himself.
Coleman, by contrast has always been a deeply uncontroversial crowd favourite at Everton which goes a long way towards explaining why his recent goal celebration in the game against Brighton got so much attention.
The right back ran towards a section of his club’s support with hands cupped to his ears, something that was taken as a reaction to some perceived criticism from those in the stands during a period in which he has been hit but a number of injuries, one of them a broken leg, and a battle to get back to the sort of form he had shown for the club when at his very best.
But the Donegalman insists that he was completely taken aback by the reaction.
“I think a lot has been made of that celebration,” he says. “I wasn’t getting stick at Goodison at all. I came back from my foot injury and I probably wasn’t happy with how I played in a couple of games and you are aware that you are not playing well.
“You look back on most of my goal celebrations and they are quite aggressive, quite emotional. And I have done a few where I have cupped my ears. So it was a bit of everything; it was my first goal in a long time and I was a bit frustrated with how I’d played in the previous game against Manchester United. It was just a bit of everything, just a bit of emotion. I can’t explain it, it just happens. Deep down I am very happy that I’ve scored, but I don’t really . . . it’s just whatever way I celebrate.”
Martin O’Neill is forever suggesting that Coleman could play for just about anyone and the defender acknowledges that there have been offers in the past but that his ambition then, as it is now, is to enjoy some tangible success at Everton where he desperate to win a trophy.
“I was never close to going,” he insists. “There was interest from numerous teams but I never looked for a way out. That’s me sitting here telling you the truth. Whatever went on between clubs went on, but I’ve always been happy at Everton.
“Everyone is different. You can look back and people can say you need to push on, you need to win things, you need to go to the top. But Everton brought me from Sligo, they’ve been good to me. Loyalty is not really a thing anymore as such, but for me I feel good there, I feel they have done a lot for me. I know football, maybe five or 10 bad appearances and fans, the media, they’ll be wanting other players in. That’s the way it goes. But for me Everton is where I want to be.
“And as I keep saying, to win one cup there would mean more to me than winning it somewhere else because I’ve been there so long. I’m 30 now and it’s something that has been in my mind from the start of this season and will be until the end; until that FA Cup final or whenever we are out of it. And if we all believe, it is possible.”