Seamus Coleman has told the Republic of Ireland’s new generation that hunger and humility are the greatest qualities they can possess if they are to make their way in international football.
The 33-year-old skipper played alongside Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane at the start of his Ireland career, and is now part of a new-look squad full of young players with potential.
However, as he prepares for Saturday’s FAI centenary celebration match against world number one side Belgium, he had a word of advice for Stephen Kenny’s fledgling stars.
Everton defender Coleman said: “The top players, the players of real high quality we have in the squad, it’s never just about that. They’ve got to stay hungry, stay humble, stay focused.
“The rest of the stuff that comes with being a professional footballer, it has to go to the back of your mind.
“The players in this squad, or any squad, if they want to be the best they can be they just have to be fully focused on just wanting to be a pro footballer at the highest level.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’ve got some very good players, some really good characters. You’ve got to stay focused. Never for a minute think you’ve arrived because when you start to think that, it can be a slippery slope for people as well.
“I can’t predict who will be the players we’ll be talking about, but we definitely have some quality in there.”
Coleman’s young team-mates will get an indication of the work they have to do when they come up against a Belgian side shorn of some of its biggest names, but which will still pack a powerful punch in Dublin.
Kenny said: “Belgium are the world number one team for a reason. They’re very consistent in their approach for every game, regardless of the game, whether it be Nations League, friendlies, qualifiers. That’s why they’re number one, they’ve racked up the wins regardless.
“They’ve got huge strength in depth. I know I spoke the other day about (Romelu) Lukaku not being in the team, but they’ve got (Divock) Origi, (Michy) Batshuayi and (Christian) Benteke as options for one position, and other players we’re well aware of as well.
“It’s not a young Belgian team, it’s a very experienced team, and physically big – players like (Hans) Vanaken who is 6ft 5in, (Leander) Dendoncker, really physically strong players as well.
“(Youri) Tielemans is probably one of the most sought-after midfield players in Europe at the moment, very influential, so they’ve a formidable team.”
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