Seamus Coleman's warning to young players on pitfalls of modern game: 'Your job is to train well and play well... not buy a Louis Vuitton wash bag'
- Seamus Coleman has become integral part of the Everton first-team squad
- The 27-year-old attacking right back is also the Republic of Ireland captain
- He has gone from playing Gaelic football to starring in the Premier League
- The former Sligo Rovers defender says young players learn from criticism
However long Seamus Coleman stays at Everton, it will always be one day less than it should have been. February 2009 and the 20-year-old Coleman's flight to England from his home in County Donegal was cancelled because of snow.
There was another from Belfast but he did not take it. He took the chance to have one last night at home.
'It was hard coming over,' said Coleman. 'I knew I had to come, knew I had to take my chance but I didn't want to, deep down. It was scary. I had to force myself to come here.'
Seamus Coleman has become an integral member of the first-team squad at Everton
The attacking right back recently took part in an Everton in the Community Showcase
EXCESS BAGGAGE OF TODAY'S FOOTBALLERS
Louis Vuitton hand luggage has become the first choice for young footballers keen to emulate their idols, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham all favouring the brand. The leather Toilet Bags and Toiletry Kits (pictured below) range in price from £355 to £510.
Coleman flew the next day and is still flying seven years on. Flying for Ireland as he scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Georgia on Thursday and flying down the right at Goodison Park. Flying towards another contract that will take him into his 30s at his one and only English club.
He is 27 now and one of the senior players in manager Ronald Koeman's progressive Everton team. He has not forgotten what it was like at the start though, and a chat that begins with some simple recollections of his early days on Merseyside leads to something much wider and important.
'I sat in my hotel room that first night and I didn't want to be here,' he said. 'Not in terms of the club — I was blessed that a club like Everton wanted me — but in terms of missing home. I found it tough. And I was 20.
'I think a 15 or 16-year-old coming over from a place like Ireland really needs help. They need someone protecting them or looking after them.
'It's a big bad world out there in football and it's easy for a young footballer to be sucked into a certain way of life.
'If I see a footballer with a Louis Vuitton wash bag I wonder what that does to others. If you are the only young lad in the changing room without one then you feel that pressure that you need to go out and get one. Even if you don't want one or even like one.
The fans' favourite poses for a picture at Goodison Park as he talks about the modern game
The defender celebrates his first international goal for Republic of Ireland with James McClean
'That's what I think is wrong with football. It's completely wrong. Your job is to train well and play well on Saturday and do well week in, week out. That's your job. Your job isn't to be going out and buying the best of everything just because someone else is.
'But they feel they all need to have the best because of the pressure. They think they need to look good on their Instagram pictures. They think they have to follow the leader but they are just kids — boys.
'They need protecting, good people looking after them. Parents and agents and people who have their best interests at heart. But sometimes it isn't the case.
'How do you change it? I don't know. I just hate the thought of a young player in a dressing room feeling worried because seven of the lads have something that he doesn't have.'
At a time when the good, bad and ugly of English football is under scrutiny, Coleman's views are interesting. They come without prompting, too. At Everton he does his bit, inviting young players to his home for dinner with him and wife Rachel.
Coleman, the Ireland captain, poked home the winning goal in Thursday's match with Georgia
Coleman was picked up from Ireland for just £150,000 after impressing with Sligo Rovers
Ultimately, though, he knows that players will stand or fall on the back of their own personalities and recently he was struck by something written in Sportsmail by former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
'You look back and you don't forget the journey but you have tough times here too,' Coleman said. 'When you are not playing well the first thing you have to do is realise it yourself.
'I read a Jamie Carragher article recently about modern players not liking to be told if they are doing things wrong but I grew up in Ireland being told that I was doing things wrong.
'Then when I got here David Moyes was tough with me too. Really tough, but it was the best thing for me. If you make a mistake, you need to do better. If a manager criticises you then he's doing it for a reason.
The full back spent time on loan with Blackpool, then playing in the Championship, in 2010
Coleman, pictured with Tim Cahill, has gone from playing Gaelic football to starring in England
'The game has probably changed a little in that lads don't like being told but the fact is that you have to be prepared to take it and get on with it.
'Personally, I have just tried to learn and improve all the time. But I was very lucky. I did my first two years on my own but then my wife finished her teaching degree and moved over and that made everything easier.
'It gave me a reason to come back from training. Before, I used to come back to the apartment on my own and play my Xbox and go to sleep.
'It's not great, really, just going into your bedroom and being bored. That shouldn't happen, but it does.'
The Irishman shows his dejection during a top-flight clash against Swansea last season
The 27-year-old right back roars with delight after scoring against Middlesbrough this season
A sunny autumn day at Goodison and Coleman is taking part in an Everton in the Community Showcase. Four other players are also present and it is a timely reminder that our national sport, in its purest form, remains a real force for good.
Coleman is enthusiastic as he plays football with disabled and blind youngsters. A talented Gaelic footballer before switching sports, Coleman remembers when his heroes used to visit his school at home in the fishing village of Killybegs.
Added perspective comes from the fact his elder brother, Stevie, has cerebral palsy.
'All this is important to me,' he said. 'EFC in the Community is massive. It gets people out and about. It gets people jobs.
'It's great to be at a club that cares so much. This club doesn't do things for the sake of it. It's because it wants to.
(Left to right) Gerard Deulofeu, Phil Jagielka and Coleman take part in the community event
Coleman is enthusiastic as he plays football with disabled and blind youngsters last month
'The players genuinely like coming here to help. No-one is looking at his watch to get away and that's how it should be. I don't see myself as a celebrity but I know meeting me means a lot to these people.
'Putting a smile on their face is great. If they go home happy and talk about it for half an hour or talk about the craic we had and how they told me we were crap on Saturday, that's great.'
At Everton this season, there hasn't been much 'crap' to talk about. Koeman's team sit fifth in the Premier League before their next game at Manchester City.
If Coleman was a full back found and developed by Moyes and given licence to express himself by Roberto Martinez, he is now enjoying the defensive structure afforded the team by Koeman.
Part of a defence that last season did not always look as though it could actually defend, he is confident it is different now.
The defender, whose elder brother, Stevie, has cerebral palsy, smiles during the event
He remembers when his heroes used to visit his school at home in fishing village of Killybegs
'It's difficult doing these interviews because it looks as though you are hammering the old regime and that's not the case,' he added.
'Every manager is different. Roberto played a more open game and made no secret of that. He liked his full backs getting high and unfortunately at times we conceded too many goals.
'This manager wants us to be solid first and then build on that with the quality attacking players.
'It's not a case of one being wrong and one right but we are more solid this season. Every time a manager comes in he puts a twist on things. This one is big on work-rate. He is demanding the best from us.
'And if (Leighton Baines) goes up on his side I maybe have to stay on mine and vice-versa.'
Asked if he was stung by last season's criticism, he is categorical. 'Yeah, massively,' he replied. 'But now it's not just four defenders who have to defend. Koeman demands that we all defend, from front to back.
Roberto Martinez was sacked as Everton manager last season after a dismal run of form
Ronald Koeman is at the helm now and expects his players to work hard all over the pitch
'Last season it was a case of people saying, "Oh, look at Everton's terrible defence". But now I think people are realising it's not just four defenders and a goalkeeper. There is more to it.
'Having said that, last season I didn't hit my standards and that has stuck with me even if it's very difficult to stand out in a team who are conceding goals.
'It starts all over again when a new manager comes in. It makes you go from feeling established to knowing that you have to do well again.
'Footballers don't like to be criticised but I have no problem taking it when you haven't played well.
'I will listen and take it on the chin and try and bounce back. That's not a problem. You try to learn from that.'
Coleman tackles Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend during last week's top-flight clash
The Coleman family are used to getting to where they want to be.
Seamus's father, Henry, was once a night porter at the Sea View Hotel in Killybegs and now he is the manager. Brother Stevie did not let his disability stop him representing Ireland at football and has a bronze medal from the 2003 Special Olympics. Brother Francis was a decorated Gaelic footballer before he joined the army.
For Seamus, it was never that easy. Having turned his back on his Gaelic career to pursue life as a footballer, it is less than 10 years ago that the manager of Sligo Rovers in north-west Ireland told him he was no longer in his plans.
'I had decided to give soccer a go and I was on the verge of failing,' he recalled. 'Nobody likes to be a failure and if I had to go back to my hometown to play Gaelic again and maybe go to college I would have felt like one.
'I was told I could go on loan. The manager didn't see anything in me that made him think I could be a player.
A fresh-faced Coleman competes for the ball with Luis Boa Morte during a game in 2010
Ashley Cole, playing for Chelsea, runs down the wing but is hunted down by the Everton star
'I had to take it but it was difficult. I was told in the manager's office, a Portakabin, but then I had to hop into the car with my dad to be taken home.
'So I didn't say anything to him about it. I couldn't bring myself to. I got in the car and said, "It went OK. We start training in two weeks", and that was it.
'My dad never knew about it until I did a couple of interviews in Ireland a few years later but that's what I am like.
'If something is bothering me I will keep it to myself and get on with it. There is no point three or four people worrying about it if I can do it myself.
'I had a year left on my contract and told myself I would just have to grind it out.
'I didn't complain. I got my head down and I like to think I eventually got what my hard work deserved.'
Coleman wheels away in celebration after scoring a goal against Stoke at Goodison Park
Defender's rise through the ranks at Everton has seen him win 40 caps for Republic of Ireland
The manager who almost ended Coleman's career before it began was Rob McDonald. In Ireland, infamy is now his. Subsequently, McDonald has spoken of Coleman's shyness as a teenager. It is something Coleman, softly spoken as he may be, rejects strongly.
'Look, everybody has their own views and personalities don't they?' he said.
'But to this day I don't believe in a young lad coming into a scene and being Billy Bigtime and thinking he knows everything and everyone.
'I know my place at Everton and I knew my place at Sligo. I spoke when I was spoken to. I was a young kid who was just trying to do well. I don't know where he got 'shy' from because he couldn't say I was shy when I played football. I got stuck in and got on with it. It was more respect. I wanted to learn.
'If Koeman said something to me now I may talk to him about it and take his opinion on board. I wouldn't have a grudge and wouldn't insult him.
Coleman is consoled by Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (centre) following their Euro 2016 exit
The right back is pictured playing for Ireland against Germany in a 2014 World Cup qualifier
'Nowadays some young lads are too much the other way. I don't agree with kids who haven't done much in the game being ahead of themselves. It's not me and I don't like to see it.
'I was always someone who respected every manager and I didn't want to be the young lad chirping all the time. I was 17 but none of that meant I couldn't play football.'
Ultimately, Coleman's career took off on the back of two lucky breaks.
McDonald was sacked before that season began and Coleman was put back in the first team. Then he was spotted by an Everton scout who had turned up only to watch his own son play.
'Mick Doherty (now chief scout at Sunderland) was over and I must have stood out as he came back another couple of times,' said Coleman with a smile.
A jubilant Coleman is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the decisive goal on Thursday
The 27-year-old admits he initially found it hard to settle at Everton but is now a key player
'In the end I didn't have to go for a trial. David Moyes just signed me.
'I was happy as I had a few trials at Burnley, Birmingham and Celtic and I had struggled.
'It was difficult going into that environment knowing that you have to impress straight away. Maybe I just got lucky with Everton. I feel as though I did.
'Mind you, when I first got here to Everton and trained for the first time I thought I had done quite well. But that's when I realised it was just the Under 18s I had been with!
'I was like, "Oh, maybe I haven't". Luckily for me, it got a bit better from there.'
Everton in the Community is one of the UK's top sporting charities and delivers over 50 programmes across Merseyside, covering a range of social issues and supporting the most vulnerable and underprivileged members of communities.
Most watched Sport videos
- Arturo Vidal scores impossible goal during training
- Bradford goalkeeper Colin Doyle substituted after three minutes
- Sky Sports viewer captures moment Klopp told off for swearing
- 'New Messi?': Celtic youth's 12 year old Karamoko Dembele
- Karamoko Dembele in action at the St Kevin's Boys Academy Cup 2016
- Arturo Vidal scores a brace for Chile during Copa America
- Jesse Lingard welcomes Paul Pogba to Manchester United
- Pep Guardiola speaks post match after Man City Spurs loss
- Pep Guardiola says Toure won't play until agent apologises
- Where's Spurs? Klopp has a map of the English clubs in his office
- Hilarious moment Jesse Lingard nearly breaks golf club
- Clashes erupt among fans after West Ham clash with Middlesbrough