Frank Lampard says his “warrior” Everton captain Seamus Coleman has unrivalled "morals and standards" – and exudes humility that is incomparable to anything the manager has encountered in more than a quarter century in professional football.
Coleman led by both word and deed as Everton recovered from a parlous position in the Premier League standings to secure survival in the penultimate game of 2021/22.
The Irishman’s teammates cited Coleman as a galvanising influence throughout the campaign, but peer praise for the player's motivational qualities soared during a run of eight matches, beginning with the 1-0 victory over Manchester United on 9 April, when Everton claimed 14 points.
Lampard, appointed at the end of January with 18 games remaining, told Coleman he was “one of the best people I have ever met”, amid emotional dressing-room scenes after Everton defeated Crystal Palace last week to confirm safety.
Coleman, who played 30 Premier League matches in the season and has 384 Club appearances, was rested for the final-day meeting with Arsenal.
But following that game in North London, Lampard explained why the 33-year-old has made such a powerful impression during the opening three-and-a-half months of the pair's working relationship.
“On day one [of Lampard's tenure], Seamus came to me, sat in my office and was honest about the Club," Lampard told evertontv.
“Things that will remain private. But he was honest about the situation and the size of the situation.
“I could see straight away the burden Seamus was carrying, in a good way, because he cares so much, and he just wanted to change it.
“From then on, after those words, his actions have been something else: speaking, training, standards every day, performances in games.
“I have never seen humility like it, in my time in football.
“I heard a lot of good things about Seamus before I came to the Club.
“He has gone there and beyond.
“I was being honest [when declaring Coleman one of the best people I’ve met], I have never met anyone who has his morals and standards and he is an incredible player.
“You talk about legends of football clubs and he is certainly one of those.”
Coleman was “a warrior for weeks”, said Lampard, after the right-back was granted a rest at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
Forward Richarlison and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, fellow mainstays of a charged one-and-a-half months that preserved Everton’s top-flight status, were also afforded a weekend breather.
Indeed, Lampard made six changes in all, opening the door for Tom Davies to make a long-awaited return following more than six months on the sidelines.
Davies injured a knee back in November and his comeback was put on ice in January when the 23-year-old damaged a hamstring in training.
The graduate from Everton’s Academy, who has played 159 times since a debut in April 2016, was limited to eight appearances and only four starts across the campaign.
“I really liked him from the outside,” said Lampard.
“I watched Tom a lot, I went up against him as a coach and saw his qualities and how much he cares for the Club.
“He was desperate to get fit and have some part in the season.
“Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to put him in because of the circumstances and his injury.
“But I thought he did really well in a tough game [at Arsenal] and I was pleased to be able to get him on the pitch.
“He can go away now and enjoy his summer a little bit and I am really looking forward to working with him.”