Football | 1 week ago

He's come a long way.

Séamus Coleman has become such a Premier League stalwart that it's easy to forget his route to the top was somewhat unusual. Ten years ago, the Killybegs man was struggling to shine at Sligo Rovers. Then, a change of manager brought with it a transformation of Coleman's self-belief, and he became a favourite at The Showgrounds.

It quickly became evident that Coleman was destined for bigger things. Sligo eventually became resigned to losing him and, in January 2009, he was snapped up by Everton for just £60,000 which, considering his impact, has to considered as one of the bargains of the Premier League era.

His Everton career was nearly over before it began. During a pre-season tour of the USA in the summer after he signed, an infected blister threatened to end his time in football. Luckily, Everton's club doctor operated on it and all was well.

With his determination to succeed stronger than ever, he made an immediate impression once he got out on the pitch.

In his home debut - against Tottenham - Coleman forced fans to sit up and really take notice. After coming on as a 15th-minute replacement for Joseph Yobo, the right-back had a hand in both goals as the Toffees recovered from two goals down to earn a point.

It was trademark Coleman, as he bombed down the right before finding Louis Saha for Everton's first. Then, eight minutes from time, another accurate delivery led to Tim Cahill's equaliser. Deservedly scooping the Man of the Match award, it was the first of many times Coleman soaked up the acclaim of the Goodison Park faithful.

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A fresh-faced 21-year-old then, Coleman has gone on to make over 200 appearances for the club and was named Everton's Player of the Year in 2014. In September last year, Martin O'Neill appointed him the new Republic of Ireland captain following Robbie Keane's retirement.

What a mark he has made, and Everton have certainly missed his enterprising runs down the right flank. Thankfully, he is nearing a return to action and his club and country will be much better for it.

Now 29, it's hard to believe that first Everton performance was eight years ago. Time really does fly.

While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Donegal pro boxer Jason Quigley, Cork Camogie star Ashling Thompson, alongside the ever-brilliant Dion Fanning in the studio!


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Everton, Seamus Coleman