herald

Thursday 22 August 2019

Young and the restless

Coleman reckons pampered kids are more interested in the bling than their football

Seamus Coleman in action for Ireland against Gibraltar on Monday
Seamus Coleman in action for Ireland against Gibraltar on Monday
Ireland captain Seamus Coleman was on hand to launch SPAR’s new Better Choices Low Fat Protein Milk and Mega Milk helped by Theo Horan and Hana Bari

Seamus Coleman celebrated a significant birthday last October when he turned 30. This October he celebrates another milestone, 10 years since his first-team debut for Everton.

In that time he's become a Premier League regular, also become the Ireland captain and seen off challengers to his right back slot with club and country, even managing to keep the impressive Matt Doherty at bay when it comes to the green shirt.

Surviving 10 years in the toughest league in the world is no mean feat and the Donegalman admits that when he looks around a Premier League world where Instagram followers and retweets are deemed paramount, he fears that the new generation of footballers lack the drive needed to succeed.

Coleman noted comments by Ireland team-mate Conor Hourihane last week where the Corkman, about to play in the Premier League for the first time in a club career that took him as low as England's fourth tier, lambasted the attitude of fame-hungry but work-shy young players who spend more time playing table tennis or pool than on the training ground.

"I actually read that interview with Conor and spoke to him afterwards. I thought it was brilliant. He is right. The game's changing," says Coleman.

"Look, there are so many different personalities but I do think that drive probably isn't the same any more in kids, probably because they're getting rewarded for not really doing quite a lot.

"They can be sorted for life before they even played 10 Premier League games. I think that's wrong.I don't think that's fair on the young players.

"They're not going to turn it down and you wouldn't blame them. The whole idea of being a footballer for me is to play in the Premier League.

"It's not to have a nice car or have a nice watch. That comes with it, if that's what you're into.

"But it's to be a Premier League footballer, to be as good as you can be. There will still be some young kids who have that desire but I do think they are given far too much too soon.

"And it doesn't help them because even if you don't play on a Saturday you're still picking up a nice wage and living a nice life. For young 18, 19 and 20-year-olds, for me, it's not ideal," he added.

So why, then, do some make it while others are seduced by bling and end up in League One at 21?

"I think with the lads breaking through into the Premier League at an early age, they have something special about them because I think it is getting harder and harder to break into Premier League teams," Coleman says.

"And it's getting harder and harder for young Irish lads as well, with the amount of foreign players that English clubs are signing, so any lad that does break in and stay in, they're obviously doing something right, so credit to them."

One man who is doing something right is Matt Doherty, a key figure for Wolves last season as they finished in seventh position in the Premier League, one place above Coleman's Everton side.

But international football is a frustration for Doherty as he was an unused sub in both qualifiers over the last week.

Doherty said before the Denmark game that criticism of his display in Gibraltar in March was unfair and insisted that it was possible for him and Coleman to play in the side side with Ireland - even though McCarthy admitted the Coleman/Doherty axis on the right didn't work in Gibraltar.

"I know the manager did say that, but Matt's a good player, he's a top player and showed it this year.

"He plays higher up than me as you know, right wing-back," says Coleman.

worst

"I think there's a lot of talk that it didn't really work in Gibraltar but I wouldn't massively think that it didn't work.

"Not a lot did go right on the night, but I wouldn't say we were the worst two players linking up on the pitch, and if the manger sees that in the future then it would be great to try it out.

"Just speaking on Matt's character, he's been in for three weeks and I was with him on Monday night.

"He didn't play in two of the games - and after the season he's had you think there might be a bit of a chip on his shoulder but he's been fully supportive of me and the lads, so all credit to him," added Coleman, pleased to end the season on a high.

"I started the season alright at club level and then had a sticky spell in and around Christmas time.

"From January, onwards, I felt good, I felt maybe getting back to what I'm about, I've enjoyed it, I've enjoyed the Ireland games as well, I'm happy with how it's finished up."

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