A young full back we signed from Sligo Rovers for just 60 grand, has to undergo surgery on an infected blister that nearly went to the bone.
“It wasn’t until maybe a month, six weeks after that, I was told, ‘We were concerned, you could have lost your big toe.’ That would have been the end of that.”
Months later, Everton are playing Spurs.
After just 15 minutes an injured Joseph Yobo is substituted and a young, unknown Irishman trotted into the right back position.
Everton’s back four now contains three right backs. Spurs lick their lips.
Shoulders dropped. Few on the pitch, or in the crowd, doubt that Spurs, already looking threatening, were going to be trouble.
A few minutes later, the Irishman sees an opening and surges into the Spurs penalty area, he beats his man and delivers a cross which Tim Cahill misses by inches.
In that moment we see the birth of a Premier League footballer: he had crossed the threshold. Later, he was given the Man of the Match Award. But the real coffee spluttering moment comes when we realize that we bought him for just 60 grand.
Rarely can a young player, promoted from the reserves, on home debut, have made such an immediate impact. My dad says he’s witnessed just three; Joe Royle, David Johnson and Wayne Rooney.
After years of waiting for a good right back, it appears that we may have got even more than we asked for; this boy is ruthlessly direct – like a mouthy child that spouts awkward home truths – and he has the fearless effervescence of youth (he never really lost that). Whenever he plays he itches to attack.
My dad bumps into Seamus Coleman before a game at Goodison. Bottomley Sr says, “I’ve put a pound on you to score!”
“You should have bought a cup of tea instead!”
Séamus is named Everton’s Player’s Player and the Supporters Player of the Season.
“It’s indescribable to win these two accolades. When I arrived here in 2009 I couldn’t have imagined I’d be stood here with these awards in my hands.”
Séamus breaks his tibia and fibula in his right leg during Ireland’s World Cup qualifier with Wales. It’s a horrific injury.
It’s January this year.
James McCarthy suffers a double leg break while playing for Everton.
“When I got into the tunnel I looked up and Seamus was there which was great. We’re best mates in football. He was telling me not to worry, saying I’ll get through it and come back stronger. The next day he came back up when I was in hospital which was really good of him.”
Séamus scores his first goal in 652 days in our 3-1 win over Brighton. As he slides towards the Gwladys, he puts his hands to his ears.
Everton have long been criticized for being softies on the pitch. Perhaps, perhaps, we’re too nice on the pitch, and not nice enough off it.
When we were speculating as to who should be Everton captain, in the absence of Phil Jagielka, Séamus was the first name on most people’s lips.
Sixty grand has given us over 200 tenacious performances for Everton, but he’s not back to his best. Last week’s performance against United wasn’t good enough from the Irishman, but we need to be patient. We know exactly what he’s capable of. The boy who came from nowhere for next to nothing deserves our loyalty as he tries to fight back – at 30 years of age – from a horrendous double leg break.
What does it say about us when we sing about his price tag until our faces are as blue as our shirts, but when he fails to live up to his own high standards, the criticisms start flowing? We know why his performances haven’t been good enough, because he’s fighting – every day – to catch up with the Séamus Coleman we knew.
To the few, the loud empty vessels: Have faith. He deserves it.