There are many important takeaways from Ireland's heroic win over Italy tonight. The most important one will probably be glossed over in the ecstasy of the Brady goal and the hype around the France match. Maybe we will only appreciate it in the years to come. It is this: Ireland found a new captain tonight and his name is Seamus Coleman.
It was not the first time Coleman wore the captain's armband for Ireland but it was the first time he inhabited it. He was that armband. He channeled seven generations of Ireland legends with his performance tonight. It started with a rousing team speech as Ireland huddled before the opening whistle. When he saluted James McCarthy in the first half, it was the most animated I can ever remember him. McCarthy was his usual restrained self but the roar from Coleman. Possessed!
— 888sport (@888sport) June 22, 2016
There has been much despairing about the future of Irish football, and rightly so. Tonight, with so much riding on the result, Martin O'Neill sent Ireland out minus any of its centurions. He put faith in the future. In Keogh and in Duffy, who'd never played a competitive fixture for Ireland. Most importantly, he put his faith in Coleman to lead, energise and mobilise this team. The likes of Keane and O'Shea have given so much for Ireland but surely the time had come for someone to step up and seize the moment and lead. Coleman had never struck me as a natural captain, but he played that match tonight like it was his fate.
Afterwards, Coleman spoke with immense pride about being captain of Ireland on this famous evening.
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) June 22, 2016
Seamus Coleman is not only Ireland's best player. He proved tonight that he can lead on the pitch. Whatever happens against France on Sunday, the future feels so much safer.
— adrian bane (@adrianbane) June 22, 2016