As Seamus Coleman prepares to don the blue of Everton for tonight’s Merseyside derby, Martin O’Neill has described the Irish internationmal as someone who is “quiet by nature” but who turns into “a man possessed” when he pulls on the green shirt, writes Liam Mackey.
In a look-back on Ireland’s 2016 which will be screened at 8.30 tonight on eir Sport 1 – and repeated over the festive season – the Ireland manager reflects on the personal qualities which make Coleman an increasingly influential figure as captain.
"I think if you are around about players for a couple of weeks, their attitude off the field as much as anything else, their influence, good or bad, over a group of players, their leadership qualities - I think those sort of things do come to the fore in someone's demeanour and attitude towards life, never mind football,” says the Ireland manager..
“Sometimes I think that the way you perform on the field might mirror the way you approach life and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes great, great players on the pitch are not the best off the pitch. I think talent is very important, I think attitude is essential and if you have got a combination of these things, then you are in business.
“Seamus Coleman is quiet by nature. He comes in here, he'd be very well-mannered. Take him onto the field now and he is a man possessed. I think it (the captaincy) is just something he desired. He has taken it to a great level and his performances for both club and country, regardless of whether or not he is captain at Everton, it seems as if his game has improved because of this extra responsibility he has.”
Asked if he had demanded Coleman display certain traits as Ireland skipper, O’Neill says:
"That's a natural process for him. I wouldn't want to give him the captaincy and say to him there are a number of things he needs to try and please me with. He got the captaincy because of who he was."