Seamus Coleman chasing elusive Euro dream

As a teetotaller, Seamus Coleman couldn’t even drown his sorrows at missing out on featuring at the last two international tournaments.

Seamus Coleman chasing elusive Euro dream

Giovanni Trapattoni didn’t feel the emergence of the full-back at Everton was of sufficient pace to earn him a berth in Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad whilst his ambitions of reaching the World Cup two years later were crushed as the Italian’s reign ended with a fourth-place finish in their group.

Watching the Toffees’ English contingent of Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley, along with USA’s Tim Howard, voyage to Brazil for the World Cup last year whilst he put his feet up was not Coleman’s idea of fun.

Now, the 27-year-old is tantalisingly close to propelling a route into France next year. Just the small matter of beating a revitalised Bosnia-Herzegovina over two legs, starting on Friday in Zenica, to negotiate first.

“I was on holidays and getting a break with my wife, which is always nice, and having a coke down in the bar because I don’t drink,” explained the Donegal native of his 2014 summer.

“But I was watching the games on television with envy just wanting to be there. I’d be gutted if I finished my Ireland career without making it to a big tournament.

“I might be playing but I’m still the fan I was as a kid. I want my friends to be out in France supporting me and my town getting behind me there.

“Everyone thought I should have been picked for the last Euros but I didn’t think so. I was hoping the lads would do well there but they got a very tough group and it was a difficult tournament for them.

“But they represented Ireland in a major tournament, something I haven’t done yet. They did ever so well to get there and I’m desperate to do it myself by getting through this play-off.”

For all the romanticism which thoughts of France evoke, the immediate sight of Muhamed Besic training with him on a daily basis transports Coleman back to the here and now.

The midfielder misses the first leg through suspension, yet his clubmate appreciates the scale of the task on away soil.

“I’d rather Mo was out of the Bosnia team than in it because he’s a top-class player,” reasoned Coleman.

“It’s a boost for us that he’ll miss the first leg but they’ve other big players in their team. We’ve spoken about the play-off but not too much as we’re showing each other some respect.

“It’s too important even for banter; there’s been none of that. In my eyes, I’m quite a serious person and this is a little bit too serious for joking around. That’s just the way I am. Maybe Aiden (McGeady), Gibbo (Darren Gibson) or James (McCarthy) have had a laugh with him but it’s not for me. Mo is a great lad. I’ve a lot of time for him, but hopefully he’s a loser by next week.”

To the outside world, Coleman is arguably Ireland’s most valuable player, evidenced by him being the last Irish representative to make the PFA’s Premier League player of the season in 2014. Modesty continues to embody his outlook, however, and he cites his own brush with second season syndrome to support his stance.

“Since I went to England, I’ve never felt ‘I had made it’,” said the Killybegs man recruited from Sligo Rovers for a snip of €80,000 by David Moyes in 2009.

“I did quite well when I broke through at Everton but, in my second season, was playing right midfield, suffered a few injuries and my form wasn’t the best. That’s why the 2012 Euros came a year too late for me.

“Nobody was really used to me in my first season but if you ask the lads, even James McCarthy, while in the first season you might try take someone on, it hits their leg and goes for you, in the second season it goes the other way.

“Then when Tony Hibbert got injured, I finally got to play at right-back where I am more comfortable. Still today, you can get too comfortable. So that bad season made me think ‘come on, you could be out of here in a year if you don’t sharpen up’.”

Another element Coleman hasn’t forgotten is his home county of Donegal. He was glued to Highland Radio on the eve of Saturday’s top-flight game against West Ham to listen into Finn Harps’ play-off victory over Limerick.

“I was delighted for Harps manager Ollie Horgan. He was my manager at Ulster Schools, a great man and I don’t think many people gave them a chance when he got the job.

“It was a strange night because one of my good friends from Killybegs, Shaun Kelly, was playing for Limerick.”

Coleman is philosophical enough to realise further breaks will come for his mate as much as he’s aware there’s one looming for himself over the next six days.

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