Séamus Coleman ready to seize chance of Euro qualification
Everton right back’s dream of playing major tournament for Ireland is on line
Stephen Ward, Darron Gibson and Seamus Coleman at the Republic of Ireland squad training session at the FAI National Training Centre, Abbotstown, Dublin, yesterday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Séamus Coleman is determined to play in a major tournament for Ireland and feels that his career would be incomplete if he did not get the chance to do so.
This week’s Euro 2016 play- off with Bosnia and Herzegovina represents the Everton full back’s best chance to make that dream a reality.
After breaking into the Ireland squad in 2011 Coleman was omitted from the group chosen by Giovanni Trapattoni to travel to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012.
The Killybegs man had played much of the 2011/2012 season on the right wing for Everton, with Trapattoni later saying that he “was not ready” to be included in the group.
But having firmly cemented his Goodison Park place at right back in the seasons since, he is now ready to add that vital ingredient to his CV.
“I have the greatest respect for Trapattoni,” the 27-year- old said after the Ireland squad met up for their first training session ahead of Friday’s clash in Zenica.
“A lot of people thought I should have been there, but I never complained about not being there. I had a few injuries, I didn’t play as many games as I’d have liked, and my form wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Had I been playing at right back for my club then I’d like to think I had a better chance, but I had no complaints.
Gutted“I’d be gutted [retiring without playing in a major tournament]. I don’t want to finish without playing for Ireland at a big tournament. Growing up as a kid, I’m a fan. I’m playing but I’m a fan, and I want my friends to be out there supporting me, my town to be supporting me and it’s something that I want to do.”
Coleman says he watched Euro 2012 at home in Donegal with friends and that, although it didn’t go to plan for Ireland, at least the players in the squad can say that they have played in a major tournament. The 27-year-old is now approaching the prime of his career and he is happy to step up and take responsibility as one of the senior members of the squad.
“We’re not babies anymore. We’re not just in the squad; we’ve been in it a few years now. Your Richard Dunnes and Damien Duffs have left, but there are still lads that we’re learning from. There’s no better way to start stepping up than at the European Championships in the summer.”
Last-chance saloonHaving had a chance to qualify when Ireland took on Poland in Warsaw last month it’s now last-chance saloon territory for Martin O’Neill’s side. After the disappointment inflicted by Robert Lewandowski at the National Stadium, Coleman is hopeful the squad can make amends on Friday and Monday.
“We were on a massive high [after beating Germany] but we did know it would be tough. They have Lewandowski and everything he hits at the moment goes in. He scored a great header but we feel like we could have done a lot better than we did. Poland were there for the taking and we just conceded at the wrong time. Coming home on the plane everyone was gutted: we’d guaranteed the play-off spot, which everyone would have taken before, but everyone was massively, massively disappointed. But it’s gone, we’d love to be at the Euros but we have to concentrate on Bosnia.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina are a team Coleman will know quite a bit about, as he shares a dressing room at Goodison Park with midfielder Muhamed Besic. But it’s strictly business between the two when it comes to the play-off .
Monday’s second leg back in Dublin is certainly the way O’Neill and his squad would have wanted the fixtures to fall, but the two-legged scenario of the play-offs is something that will be unusual to many, including Coleman.
“It’s new to me, I haven’t been involved in international play-off games before. The manager will tell us exactly what he wants, but an away goal and keep it tight over there would be ideal. But football isn’t always ideal. But it’d be great to bring it back here and get the crowd like they were against Germany – I think then we’d have a great chance.”