‘All I want is to bring a cup to this club’: Seamus Coleman talks Everton, Irish kickabouts and football’s wayward youth After almost a decade at Everton, Seamus Coleman still has his sights set high Seamus Coleman in action for Everton last season (Getty Images) Sam Cunningham 14 minsFriday August 10th 2018 The i newsletter News for open-minded people. Seamus Coleman was back visiting his parents at their house in his hometown Killybegs, a small fishing port on the south coast of Ireland’s County Donegal, as he does often in his time off from Everton, when there was a knock at the door. A few of the young ones on the housing estate wanted to see if Seamus could come out to play. There is a big green in the middle of all the houses where the local kids kick about and Coleman can often be spied joining in during the summer months. Only, when Coleman comes out to play, they all want to join in. Suddenly, dads turn up from nowhere, springing from nearby houses, and soon enough there will be 20-plus people from the surrounding area, flying into tackles and having fun with their national team’s captain. “My mum and dad’s house, we live on a housing estate, [and] you’d be down and a couple of kids would call over with the football and you can see in their eyes that they’re desperate for me to come outside and play so I’ll go out,” the Everton defender tells the i. “The young lads who have been knocking are getting a bit older and they’ve started enjoying going down town a bit more, but it’s been great and I love it. I love the people at home they’re very good to me. I love to give back in some way whether that’s out kicking a ball with a couple of young people and it’ll make they’re day, that’s no problem to me.” There is steely but lovely nature to Coleman’s core. Before our interview at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground he is asked to record some videos for Everton supporters who are critically ill, in some cases terminal. But this is no act, he is not going through the motions or reading from a script. He is clearly devastated to read their stories. One of the boys has been told he will not live. The auntie of another young supporter fighting leukaemia has asked if her nephew can visit Coleman, his favourite player, at the training ground when he is out of hospital. “Can I visit him?” the player asks. ‘All I want now is to bring a cup to this club’ Coleman and his daughters lap the pitch at Goodison Park (Getty Images) Coleman looks forward to the day when he can return home permanently with his wife — his partner since school, Rachel — and their two young girls, Lilly, two, and Ella, born in January. He longs to join the local Gaelic football team, initially just for training but with the hope of turning out for them. The tough, brutal nature of the sport, which he still watches regularly, means he is unable to entertain the idea of playing while he’s still a professional footballer. Read more: Can Arsenal return to the Premier League top four under Unai Emery? Retirement is still some way off, but Coleman puffs his cheeks out at the prospect of turning 30 in October, and how the coming February will mark a decade since a determined young man left Killybegs alone and flew to Merseyside to join Everton. Team-mate Theo Walcott said recently that when you think of Everton, you think of Seamus Coleman. “That makes me feel old,” he says, laughing. “When people used to tell me time flies they’re right, it goes so fast. I’m proud. It’s not easy to play in the Premier League for nine or 10 years especially at a club like this, it’s a very big club in England. All I want now is to bring a cup to this club: an FA Cup, League Cup, win a trophy. That’s what this club wants, that’s what the fans want, that’s what we as players should all want. Something that’s really pushing me on is to do that.” Just by looking at Coleman you can tell he is one of those footballers who has spent his whole career living right: good, healthy food and drink, not piling on too much weight in the off-season, pushing himself every day in training. There is barely an ounce of fat on him and his cheek bones are a thing of wonder; at an angle they are like small mountains protruding either side of his nose. Read more: The Summer of Glove: Why the world went mad for goalkeepers this transfer window “I want to win a trophy for the people in the kitchen, for the media team, for everyone, not just the players,” he adds. “I’ve loved my time here, my two girls have been born in Liverpool, I’m well settled in the city. You don’t just stay at clubs like this, you have to work hard every day. Especially nowadays with the money in the game they can go out and buy anyone so you need to keep pushing and fighting and make sure you stay in the team.” Everton were one of the transfer window’s big spenders with the three deadline day deals for Yerry Mina, Bernard and Andre Gomes taking their spending to almost £100million. Coleman is relishing that their new manager, Marco Silva, has two strong players for every position. But it is a fighting spirit he worries is lacking in the younger generation. ‘You need good characters’ Coleman bursts forward during a recent friendly against Rennes (Getty Images) Much has changed about the game and its players since Coleman arrived in England in 2009, beyond the transfer fees (he joined for a fee of £60,000 from Sligo Rovers, making him one of the Premier League’s greatest bargains, whereas Mina signed from Barcelona for around £30m). He cannot pinpoint exactly the cause, but believes younger players are not what they once were, in terms of character rather than talent; that the heated argument in the changing room after a 2-0 defeat to vent anger is becoming a thing of the past. Read more: What Manchester United’s failed transfer bid for Diego Godin reveals about the club “It’s definitely changed,” he says. “I came over as a 20-year-old, spoke when I was spoken to, cracked on, got my head down, tried to do the best I possibly could in training. If I didn’t train well or play well it would bother me until the next game I could possibly play well. “Football was everything. Now I don’t know if young players, have got that same — it’s not level of respect as they are respectful — they’ve just been mollycoddled a bit through the academy, it’s all they’ve ever known: good food in the canteen, state-of-the-art gyms, their kit washed for them, their socks put in their kit, grown men having to do their laundry after games for them, they get all that done for them. “I suppose clubs are trying to make the best players they can possibly make but I think in the process you need to make sure you’re making good people and personalities, because when the going gets tough in football you need good characters. I hope that side of the game, where if you get beat 2-0 you and your team-mates can have an argument and then you can leave it there, doesn’t stop. Nowadays you see less and less of that happening which is disappointing.” ‘It’s just the way the game’s gone’ He adds: “That side of the game, it’s important to still have that. Touching on the young players, I’m not saying they’re in any way disrespectful or bad mannered, they just don’t have the same upbringing as maybe the lads did 10 or 15 years ago. Read more: Transfer deadline day 2018: Full list of completed Premier League transfers club-by-club “Top players even here, [Leighton] Baines, Jags [Phil Jagielka] who’ve been here a long time, they probably grew up cleaning boots and cleaning stands and all the rest but that doesn’t happen nowadays. I just feel like you’ve got a hell of a lot of footballers, hell of a lot of academy footballers who probably all believe they’re going to make it, but the reality is they’re not, you hope you’re building good people that if they don’t make it they go on and do good things in their life and career. It’s just the way the game’s gone. It’s hard to stop it.” Coleman admits he felt lonely, at times, when he arrived from Ireland, saved by Rachel, at the time his girlfriend, visiting every weekend. When Everton have had other young Irish players over for trials or to sign a contract he will take them out for dinner and has even had them round to his house, to welcome them. They must remind him of the young lads back in Killybegs who come knocking on his parents’ door every summer.
It's verging on criminal how managers have overlooked this man to give the armband to Phil Jagielka. Seamus embodies everything that is great about Everton with his working class background to his dedication and loyalty to Everton for a decade, to his attitude within the squad and work in the community and relationship with the fans.
I'll lose a lot of respect in Silva if Jagielka walks out (which he will) with the armband tomorrow. Now is the perfect time to make the change. Silva has already decided that Jagielka is not in his starting xi plans when everybody is fit: it simply would make no sense to have him captain when the far superior, in every single way, Coleman is there and first name on the team sheet.
People talk about modern day everton legends in players like cahill, Ferguson, Campbell. Without taking anything away from those players seamy beats them all for me.
If there was one player from the last 10-15 years who epitomises everton it's him. He just gets the club, he's a leader, works hard, gets stuck in when it gets hard and he can play. Expecting to see him back to his best this season, he was a little subdued after his injury last season. He has to be captain of this club. The more you hear and see of him the prouder he makes you that he's a blue. Just a fantastic bloke. Best business we've done in the modern game imo.