Over the past year, a host of young Irish footballers have taken a different approach to their professional football careers. Many have opted to spread their wings across Europe, rather than taking the traditional route of going over to England. Seamus Coleman spoke about the positives that the new route could have on the youngsters.
Cathal Heffernan and Kevin Zefi both made switches to AC and Inter Milan over the past year, while Udinese captured the signings of James Abankwah and Festy Ebosele. Liam Kerrigan left UCD for Como at the start of the summer. Aaron Connolly joined him in Serie B after heading to Venezia on loan from Brighton.
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Seamus Coleman on young Irish players going abroad
Speaking at a media round table event for Spar Better Choices, Everton and Ireland captain Seamus Coleman praised his fellow country men for making the leap.
" I just felt maybe in my generation, it just wasn't really there as much. I just feel like maybe clubs are all more open to things like that now. Where as, you know, when I was coming through it was, go to England, play in England and that was it so it's great to see."
20-year-old Ireland winger Festy Ebosele has just come on for Udinese away to AC Milan at the San Siro 🇮🇹
A special special moment for the Wexford lad.#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/tYBykWNcUK
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) August 13, 2022
" (I) had a few conversations with Festy (Ebosele) over the summer and he was so excited by it and he was so looking forward to it and you know I'm glad to see you know he's played against AC Milan and I'm hoping he'll have a good season and I think it's a great platform for them as well.
"If they do well there, the recognition they can get and the plaudits they can get and the moves they could get from it could be massive and it's so important for our lads just to go and play football. Whether that be Italy, England, Spain whatever and it's just so good to see and I think for fans as well, it gives that something to look at and results to look out for, other leagues to look at as well."
It's without a doubt a huge positive for Irish football as a whole, with a number of players getting valuable experience of some of Europe's top leagues.
Coleman on Sligo Rovers' European run
Prior to his move to Everton in 2009, Seamus Coleman spent three years with Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland. The Bit O'Reds enjoyed a great European run this summer, beating Bala Town and Motherwell before eventually being knocked out by Norwegian outfit Viking in the third round of qualifying.
Speaking at the Spar Better Choices, media roundtable event, Coleman spoke about how he followed their European run.
Seamus Coleman said:
" Definitely something that I took notice of and the games, I watched the games. And especially the game against Motherwell in the Showgrounds, I thought they just looked so comfortable and you do take massive pride in seeing that, you know seeing a League of Ireland team compete in Europe like that and even you know the last game, they got a good result at home which was good, the game away from home wasn't great but massive pride in it and I think the whole Sligo community took massive pride in it and it's great for the league on a whole as well."
"I was watching out for the Pats' results, the Shamrock Rovers' results because you know it's great for a lot of young managers in the league now as well which is great to see and I think it's great to see them progress in Europe."
Shamrock Rovers may be the only Irish side left in Europe, but the performances from the League of Ireland sides showed the rest of Europe that they are not miles off the level it takes to compete.
Seamus Coleman was speaking at the launch of the SPAR Better Choices campaign. SPAR is helping guide parents to making healthier and better choices ahead of children going back to school by providing fun lunch box recipes and sharing helpful exercise tips.