Captain at club and international level, Seamus Coleman has consistently defied expectations since his £80,000 move from Sligo Rovers to Everton in 2009.
The Killybegs native never shies away from the big occasion, nor does he shirk responsibility to be the best footballer he can be. His man of the match performance in a unique Merseyside Derby atmosphere, with him being the most experienced head in a youthful Everton side, may be a sign that he's back to his best.
It's a best that we haven't seen for a while, with the past number of years have been the toughest in Coleman's career. What should have been the marauding full-back's prime was curtailed by a cruel leg break against Wales in 2017. Since then, Coleman has faced criticism over his form and his almost-guaranteed place in both Ireland and Everton's starting XI.
His managers at club and international levels had alternatives. For Ireland, Matt Doherty has been a consistent performer for Wolves as the side rose from the Championship to the business end of the Europa League. At club level, impressive Everton youth graduate Johnjoe Kenny, currently on loan at Schalke, couldn't keep his place in the Everton team once Coleman returned from injury. Furthermore, World Cup winner Djibril Sidibe has been unable to remove Coleman from his right-back berth.
Of course, questions were inevitably asked about why Coleman was continually chosen over Doherty at international level. Doherty's performance against Denmark in Ireland's last game, with Coleman missing through suspension, will ensure that Coleman's position in the side isn't guaranteed when Stephen Kenny names his first squad.
However, you can imagine that if Coleman is performing like he did against Liverpool, Kenny will be just as enamoured with him as Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy beforehand.
Coleman kept Sadio Mane, one of the world's best attackers, quiet for the entirety of the Merseyside Derby. Not only that, but his stoic performance forced Jurgen Klopp to move Mane into a central role in order to get the Senegalese attacker into the game.
Although Coleman couldn't assume an attacking role as often as he usually would, he more than made up for it with his defensive effort.
Coleman had more successful tackles (four) and won possession back more than anyone else on the pitch. It is that defensive reliability which managers love about Coleman. It is that reliability which saw him take over the captain's armband at club and international level.
⭐️ Man of the Match, @Everton's Seamus Coleman
8 x possession won*
(* = most in match) pic.twitter.com/bgmLdTak6A
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) June 21, 2020
One performance following a three month lay-off isn't the be-all and end-all when it comes to critically analysing Seamus Coleman. Regardless, his performance should be valued by Ireland and Everton fans alike.
The emergence of Matt Doherty has led to continued denigration of Seamus Coleman's role in the Ireland set-up, which has always been entirely unfair. Doherty's emergence, coupled with Coleman's renaissance, should do nothing but excite Ireland fans.