He’s been called Ireland’s answer to Gareth Bale and in their tussles in the Premier League to date, he has often come out on top. Seamus Coleman’s ability to attack and influence the play is one of the key reasons Irish fans hold some hope we can defeat Sweden at home and take a massive step towards the World Cup in Brazil next year.
The Everton man has made the right-back spot his own after what seemed like a lifetime to break into the Irish team. In doing so, Coleman has become the poster boy for the Republic’s new style.
In qualifying for Euro 2012, Giovanni Trapattoni was criticised for a perceived ultra-cautious approach. His full-backs rarely ventured forward and, in fact, the likes of John O’Shea, Kevin Kilbane, and later Stephen Ward, became the chief culprits for Ireland surrendering possession with aimless long balls from defence.
The coverage of Ireland’s evolution in play has been virtually non-existent as the opinions of many pundits and fans alike appear so entrenched against the manager that they simply can’t see changes. Most people will acknowledge Ireland stood little chance going to Stockholm last March playing the type of football that has come to define the Trapattoni era. Yet, the team shocked onlookers with a change in tactics.
You could count on one hand how many long balls were pumped from the Irish back-line. What’s more, when Ireland’s wingers Jon Walters and James McClean were in possession, full-backs Coleman and Wilson were mere yards away offering support. This included forward forays right to the edge of the Swedes’ penalty area.
Coleman even gave glimpses of this willingness to take on his opponent in the mauling by Germany at the start of the campaign. The Donegal man was one of the few who came out of that game with his reputation enhanced.
Further excellent displays came against England, when Coleman proved a real handful for Ashley Cole in Wembley, and Spain in New York.
The 24-year-old has started the Premier League in lightning form scoring on the opening day against Norwich City. Fantasy Football managers will also appreciate Coleman’s contribution so early in the season and will no doubt be keeping an eye on his progress.
Not to mention, an increasing number of fans are set to be watching the action unfold through providers such as Virgin, BT and Sky. Sky TV for example, is now offering all users one month of free Sky TV if they sign up for Sky Sports. Getting Sky Sports should be a quick fix if you’re already signed up with Sky Broadband packages.
And Sky’s Gary Neville recently spoke of potential competition for Coleman at Goodison Park in the shape of John Stones but was also hugely impressed by the Irish international’s performance against England at Wembley.
Nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year in season 2010-2011, Coleman, the former Sligo Rovers star, won the club equivalent at Goodison Park. He was the Irish U21 player of the year in both 2009 and 2010 and was handed his Irish début in the Carling Nations Cup tie with Wales. While Irish fans clamoured for his inclusion in the Republic’s starting line-up, the full-back/winger was placed on the stand-by list for Euro 2012. He has bided his time to make his mark in the green jersey having grown up playing Gaelic football before concentrating on the League of Ireland with the Bit O’Red.
“Gaelic football was my first love until I was about 18,” Coleman recently told FIFA.com. “I played at all the under-age levels and was a big part of the county scene. I was quite successful and really enjoyed it. But then I had to make the decision on whether I should become a full-time professional with Sligo Rovers or stick as an amateur and play Gaelic. I thought it was a chance worth taking and fortunately it’s worked out well for me.”
Coleman made 41 appearances last season for both club and country and is now one of Trapattoni’s first names on the team sheet. The Killybegs native even took hold of the captain’s armband for a short while in the friendly with Wales, but the serious business comes next week in the World Cup qualifiers when Ireland face do-or-die clashes with Sweden and Austria.
“My goal in international football is to get to a major tournament and play a part in it – and to represent Ireland at a World Cup would be amazing. It’s something every footballer strives to do. You want to play for your country and you definitely want to play for your country in a World Cup. We all want to be there playing against the best players in the world.”