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Doing His Neville Best
As he launches his first iPhone App, veteran Premier League star Phil Neville talks about his relationship with Roy Keane, his respect for Alex Ferguson, the day Wayne Rooney turned up for training in slippers and why he reckons ex-Sligo Rovers man Seamus Coleman is going to be a huge star for club and country
Stuart Clark, 17 Nov 2010
Six Premier Leagues, three FA Cups, three FA Community Shields, a UEFA Champions League and an Intercontinental Cup. Few English football players have pocketed as many medals as Phil Neville, the former Manchester United legend now equally as revered at Everton where fans were won over the moment he scythed Cristiano Ronaldo down in an F.A. Cup tie. Allegiances switched from Old Trafford to Goodison Park, the 33-year-old has helped complete The Toffees’ transformation from perennial mid-table dwellers to a side capable of turning over Man U and Chelsea, which they did last season within the space of ten days.
After a sluggish start, Everton’s 2010/11 campaign came alive in the most satisfying fashion last month with the 2-0 derby demolition of Liverpool – the jumbo Man of the Match bottle of champagne going to Killybegs boy Seamus Coleman who you suspect would gladly swap all that Moët for a place in the Ireland starting XI against Norway in a fortnight’s time.
“What stood out during the derby was Seamus’ ability to run at people with pace, beat them and put in a telling cross, but he’s also great defensively as he showed last week against Spurs,” Neville enthuses. “He’s only made a handful of first-team starts, and already he’s bossing games.”
What were Phil’s first impressions of young Seamus when he arrived at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground in January following his £80,000 move from Sligo Rovers?
“I just laughed because he was so typically Irish – white as a sheet, no colour. Y’know, it looked like he needed a good suntan. His hair wasn’t brushed, he was dressed scruffily – no frills or flashness – and he just went out and trained. From day one, I thought, ‘This kid’s got a chance’ because he wasn’t bothered. He didn’t come over here to drive an expensive car or to earn the money. He came over to play football, and he didn’t do the academy system, which I think has helped him.”
A surprising statement, given that in recent years Everton’s own youth academy graduates have included Dan Gosling, James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe, Jack Rodwell and Wayne Rooney who may have become the forgotten man of football since leaving Fortress Goodison but, hey, there’s no accounting for poor career decisions!