In January 2009, David Moyes picked up a diamond from Emerald Isle. Séamus Coleman truly epitomises the word ‘bargain’.
The 29-year-old was a low-risk purchase by Everton 9 years ago from his native Ireland. But over the years, he has developed into an industrious fullback delivering performance after performance season upon season for the Toffees.
An ever-present figure in defence since his arrival at Goodison Park, Coleman has established himself as one of Everton’s best players in the Premier League era, remarkable considering his humble beginnings in the Irish league:
After a tough start his professional career, the teenager was told to move down a division by Rob Mcdonald. Yet new manager Paul Cook saw something in Coleman, something special. With faith from Cook, the defender began to get a run of games in the first team, providing solidity in Rovers’ back line.
“He made me feel like I was the best player in the League. It just makes such a difference when you have a manager who believes in you”. Coleman on manager Paul Cook
Consistent performances from Coleman attracted admirers from all over the UK with Ipswich, Celtic and Birmingham all interested. Yet it was a recommendation from Willie McStay to David Moyes that got the Toffees involved. A mere £60,000 (one week’s worth of wages for reserve players nowadays) was enough for Sligo to let their young defender go to Merseyside. What a coup this turned out to be…
He made an instant impression in the Premier League on his debut in Everton’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham. Involved in both goals and a man of the match performance, beginner’s luck? Not at all. An assist to Tim Cahill within minutes of his FA Cup debut and Everton already knew they had a talent on their hands. To help their young defender develop faster, he was sent on loan to Championship club Blackpool in 2009/10.
12 appearances in all competitions perhaps wasn’t week in week out football, yet his 9 league games with 1 goal still contributed to Blackpool’s qualification for the playoffs. Coleman played in their Play-Off Final victory against Cardiff to send The Seasiders up.
After showing his capability offensively, the Irishman returned to Goodison Park and was rewarded with a starting place in right midfield in 2010/11. He was effective going forward with 6 goals in all competitions yet still needed to mature defensively shown by his needless red card against Chelsea. But regardless, his impressive breakout season nominated him for PFA Young Player of the Year.
2011/12 and 2012/13 followed suit with Coleman improving every game. He was rewarded with a new 5 year contract for his endeavours in December 2012 and despite failing to score in the league in either season, his defensive output was incredible.
Yet 2013/14 was the Irish international’s finest season in a blue shirt. This season propelled him into the spotlight with his incredible stamina and incredibly wide skill-set. He may just have been the best and most complete right back in the league.
A career high 6 goals with 3 assists alongside his usual defensive duties were instrumental in Everton’s 5th place finish and record high points tally of 72. Not to mention he created 45 chances and maintained an 88% pass accuracy through the Toffees’ season, a testament to the threat he posed going forward with the ball at his feet. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year and has gained the recognition he really deserves since.
5 managers have come and gone, but Seamus Coleman continues to be an untouchable player at right-back for Everton. At 29, the quality he possesses in both halves is a rarity nowadays, with most defenders having an imbalance between attack and defence.
People talk about the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ashley Cole and Eric Cantona as the best bargains in Premier League history. But just remember, for one week of Jack Rodwell’s wages, Everton acquired one of the best fullbacks in the league…