Seamus Coleman will continue to lead by example as he heads into the World Cup qualifier battle with Portugal after learning from some of the Republic of Ireland’s greatest players.
The 32-year-old Everton full-back has taken on the mantle of captaining his country in his own understated way and is now helping to school a new generation of internationals in what it means to pull on the green shirt.
As he does so, he will recall the lessons he was taught as he took his first steps on the international stage under the watchful eyes of the nation’s golden generation.
Coleman said: “Straight away, someone like John O’Shea pops into your head – over 100 caps, modest, humble, never complained about anything in training.
“If things weren’t right, he just always got on with it and for me, that’s a model professional who I learned a lot from, from looking up to him.
“Then you had Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Shay Given, all massive names in Irish football, but the pride they had when they put on that shirt, you just knew it.
“You would be in a team-talk with Robbie Keane and you could just feel the pride coming from him before the game.
“It was just a great school for me to come through, Kevin Kilbane and people like that, just really proud and really honoured to come away and be part of their national team.
“Ultimately it’s up to you as an individual to take that on board and to realise the opportunity you’ve been given, and I was delighted to learn from those lads.”
Keeper Gavin Bazunu, 19, and 22-year-olds Dara O’Shea and Jayson Molumby have forced their way into manager Stephen Kenny’s plans in the last year, but Coleman has already seen enough in how they and some of their fellow youngsters have conducted themselves on and off the pitch to believe they have big futures ahead of them.
He said: “You just need to keep your head down, work hard every day, never take anything for granted, never think that you’ve made it and keep grinding every single day.
“If these lads coming through do that, then I’m sure they’ll go on to have great careers for club and country. From what I’ve seen so far, everyone is so happy to be part of this group and very honoured, and long may that continue.
“Ultimately then it’s just about making sure that we get results on the pitch as well.”
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