Seamus Coleman has received the Freedom of the County of Donegal.
The Everton defender was awarded the honour at a civic reception hosted by the Cathaoirleach - the chair of the senate - and members of Donegal County Council on Friday at the County House in Lifford.
Signed by Everton for just £60,000 in 2009, Coleman has become a mainstay in the Blues' line-up and is closing in on 250 appearances for the Club. He has also represented his country with distinction, and was named Republic of Ireland captain by Martin O’Neill in September 2016.
Born in Killybegs, County Donegal, Coleman has never lost sight of his origins and holds his home dear to his heart.
“I know everyone loves where they’re from but I really do love Killybegs,” he said. “I’m just Seamus, who they’ve known playing the Gaelic and kicking a football against the wall on St Cummins Hill, the housing estate I grew up on.
“This is peace and quiet and family and friends, walks along Fintra Beach and kids on the estate knocking on the door and asking me to come outside to play football with them and chatting about the Premier League. But no one treats me like a Premier League footballer.”
Coleman is the eighth recipient of the Freedom of the County, joining Irish football greats Shay Given and Pat Bonner. The right-back was joined at the ceremony by his wife Rachel, daughter Lily, mother Maire, father Henry and brothers Stevie and Francis.
Speaking at the ceremony, an emotional Coleman said that he was shocked to receive this honour and that this award would take pride of place in his home. He also talked about how proud he is to be from Killybegs and Donegal and said that his heart would always lie here.
Cathaoirleach councillor Terence Slowey hailed the 28-year-old as a worthy addition to that group.
“He is a wonderful role model for the children and young people of this county,” he said. “He has achieved great things in his career and although he has reached the pinnacle of his sport he has never forgotten his roots.
“Seamus remains a humble and genuine person and his commitment for Donegal and in particular to Killybegs is beyond reproach.
"While he has achieved great things on the field, I can’t help but be most impressed by his achievements off the field. He is a modest and humble person. A person who always has time to talk to his supporters and especially the children and young people that look up to you as their hero and role model.
“He is also a person who remains hugely committed to his hometown and a wonderful ambassador for Donegal."