Seamus Coleman: A star on the rise

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Ian Walton/Getty ImagesSeamus Coleman continues to improve with each season at Goodison Park for manager David Moyes.

The Republic of Ireland travel to Stockholm this evening boasting two wins from their three Group C fixtures. Aiming to move above their second-placed hosts in the table, Giovanni Trapattoni and his players will need to be at their best against a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired Sweden.

While club teammate Darron Gibson remains absent, partly due to baffling team selections from Trapattoni, Seamus Coleman is trying to carve out a regular place, and his international manager talked up his potential in the pre-match build-up.

Set to earn his 10th international cap this evening, Coleman is on a rapid rise through the world of football. The Republic of Ireland full back has travelled a long way since playing centre back for local side St Catherine's of Killybegs.

After impressing in a preseason friendly against them, Irish league side Sligo Rovers gave the youngster his first taste of professional football, converting him into a fullback in the process. Less than three seasons elapsed at Sligo before Coleman found himself on his way to Everton for the relatively paltry fee of £60,000 in the January 2009 transfer window.

Highly rated due to his promising Sligo performances, Everton edged out several other clubs vying for his signature -- other clubs reportedly interested included Celtic, Ipswich and Birmingham City. After a period in the reserves, adjusting to the step up in speed and quality, Coleman received a baptism of fire on his Everton debut in October 2009.

Suffering a defensive injury crisis, David Moyes was left with little choice. He had to launch Coleman in at the deep end. In this instance, the deep end comprised of an away Europa League tie. Out of position, playing left back in a makeshift defence, Coleman endured a nightmare debut as Everton suffered their biggest European defeat at the hands of Benfica.

Surrounded by the attacking talents of Pablo Aimar, Javier Saviola, Fabio Coentrao, Oscar Cardozo and Angel di Maria, Coleman was powerless to prevent the ensuing demolition and injury-ravaged Everton left the Stadium of Light on the back of a 5-0 hammering.

Eager to bounce back, the young right back did just that turning in a man of the match display against Tottenham just two months later. Appearing as a substitute for the injured Joseph Yobo, Coleman set up two goals as the Toffees fought back from 2-0 down to claim a 2-2 draw.

Aided by a loan spell at Blackpool, Coleman continued to develop and featured prominently for Everton in 2010-11, albeit in the unaccustomed position of right midfield. Excelling at the club level, a senior international debut followed against Wales in February 2011 and a PFA Young Player of the Year nomination crowned a productive first full season at Goodison Park.

Allied to a loss of form, injuries hampered Coleman the following year, but the Donegal-born fullback has bounced back impressively this season. Featuring exclusively in his favoured right back position, Coleman has matured into the role and looks set to cement his place as first choice at Everton.

Evidenced by the obvious contrast between his far post error against Fulham in November and his headed clearance last weekend, Coleman continues to improve defensively. However, while progressing in defence, he remains at his best when pushing forward.

Working in tandem with the creative Kevin Mirallas, the duo are helping to ease the creative burden on the overworked pairing of Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar. Despite both players missing matches through injury, Everton are unbeaten when Coleman and Mirallas have started league games together this season (six wins, four draws).

Possessing the rare commodity of pace, Coleman is able to recover quickly in defence while providing a quick counter-attacking option. Improving with each passing match, this rapid progress is most welcome as fellow right back candidates Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville enter the twilight of their careers.

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