At the age of 34 and in the last months of his contract, it is indeed quite possible that Seamus Coleman could be close to ending his time at Everton. The club captain, since joining the Blues in January 2009 for the now-iconic sum of £60,000, has gone on to make 409 appearances for the Toffees in all competitions, including 352 games in the Premier League which ties him with Leon Osman in second and only two behind former goalkeeper Tim Howard amongst all Everton players.
Unfortunately, it’s looking like that the Irishman will not be able to overhaul Howard’s mark after sustaining what looks like a pretty horrible injury in the end-to-end 2-2 draw last night against Leicester City. Coleman was guarding the ball and it seemed his knee got caught in an awkward position from a challenge by Boubakary Soumare.
The right back continued to writhe around in pain even as the physios worked on him, but it was quite clear that this was a serious injury and not only would he not be able to continue, but that his season might also be over.
With the score delicately poised at 2-1 for the Foxes and both sides having missed gaping goals on either end, the loss of the veteran defender was going to be a setback for the Blues. Coleman had just returned from a minor injury and his presence had proven invaluable in what had become a problem area for the Toffees after outright terrible performances at the position from Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate in preceding games.
Neither was in the matchday squad last night and Sean Dyche turned to youngster Nathan Patterson to fill in, which the Scotsman would go on to do admirably despite the hosts intentionally targeting his side to try to take advantage of his inexperience.
In the end the Blues were able to fight back and find the equalizer for a draw that keeps them still alive in the relegation battle, but the club was no doubt inspired by the determination and humility of the 34-year-old who has led from the forefront throughout his tenure with the club.
If ever Everton needed any more motivation for the remaining four games of the season to preserve the club’s proud tradition of having been present for every Premier League season and in the top-flight since the 1954-55 campaign, then they would do well to look at the example set by the selfless Coleman whose only thoughts as he was stretchered off were for his team and the fans.
The defender, for possibly one last time, lifted himself off the stretcher and searched for the away end where the Everton supporters had made themselves heard over the full volume tannoy before the game. With his line of sight to them unobstructed, Coleman raised his fist in defiance and let out a primal roar.
If ever any one of us needed reminding that the Sligo-born footballer was as Everton as they come, then that was it. There is not an Evertonian alive who would not have been moved by the moment, and the captain’s gesture.
After the final whistle Sean Dyche indicated it could be bad for the veteran - “It’s really unfortunate. We’re waiting on news, it could be serious, a knee injury. I thought he was terrific.”
With four games left in the season, Everton remain mired deep in the relegation zone. Even two wins might not be enough to save this club and it would truly be a shame if last night was the last time we got to see Coleman playing in the Premier League, but then such is the reality of the situation the club finds itself in after years and years of mismanagement from the very top.
Until our fate is sealed however, we would all do well to take heart and encouragement from the example of our captain.