Seamus Coleman says the duty of care he feels towards Everton underpins the leadership qualities that are drawing enormous praise from Frank Lampard and assorted teammates.
Manager Lampard called Coleman “one of the best people I have ever met”, adding the “warrior” Irishman owns unrivalled “morals and standards”.
Andros Townsend, Vitalii Mykolenko and Abdoulaye Doucoure are among multiple colleagues who have showered plaudits on Coleman’s individual and collective leadership traits.
Coleman, Everton’s permanent captain since 2019, insists he’s never looked elsewhere for guidance on how to lead and inspire.
No, the player who is preparing for his 14th full Goodison Park campaign, follows his gut when it comes to galvanising those around him.
“You can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts you want, to try to learn about leadership – but it is in me,” said Coleman, who joined Everton as an unheralded 20-year-old full-back from Sligo Rovers in January 2009.
“You are who you are. I know you can always learn but there is no magic to it.
“I don’t see myself as a leader, or look to be that way.
“Everyone is different. I don’t look to other leaders.
“I just want what is best for people and I work hard.
“I know everyone has heard me saying for so long that all I want is for Everton to be successful, but I can’t shy away from that fact.”
Coleman signed renewed two-year terms with Everton last summer, shortly after the Club completed the free transfer acquisition of forward Townsend.
Formerly with Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, and capped 13 times by England, Townsend needed all of five months to conclude Coleman was “the best captain I’ve played for”.
“Nowadays,” explained Townsend, “the word captain doesn’t mean as much as it used to.
“It’s more about wearing the armband and shouting a bit on the pitch. But Seamus, on and off the pitch, Monday to Friday, really is the captain.
“He’s not worried about upsetting people or making friends. If something needs to be said, he will say it.”
The modest Coleman brushed off Townsend’s compliment. But there was some insight into the 33-year-old’s straightforward mindset when he addressed the admiring words.
“It’s a nice thing for Andros to say but I don’t know why people think that way about me as a captain,” continued Coleman.
“I speak my mind if I am not happy or think things can be better.
“If I don’t think people are pulling in the same direction, I feel I can say so because I have been here so long and want what’s best for the Club, not what’s best for me.
“Ultimately, you want everyone pulling in one direction.
“We are working on that and will keep trying to improve it because things can always get better.
“Players are changing and you need to understand the new type of player and learn how to speak to them and get the best out of them.
“It is not just shouting and ranting and raving.”
Doucoure related his astonishment over a welcoming text from Coleman following the midfielder’s arrival in summer 2021.
Mykolenko, meanwhile, revealed Coleman sent a similar message pledging unstinting support for a young man in a new country after the Ukraine international left-back's purchase from Dynamo Kyiv in January this year.
“I have high standards, I don’t know any different, and always welcome new players to the Club,” added Coleman, who has played 384 games for Everton and is performing under his eighth permanent boss in Lampard.
“I’ve not changed. I’ve always cared for players and for the Club and always demanded the best.
“I try to keep standards high every day and I am not the only one.
“You consistently have to adapt, or you don’t last long.
“I have had to work on different things and improve my defending [from level when he joined 13-and-a-half years ago].
“Things change along the way. I’ve played in Everton teams where both full-backs fly forwards, at other times we’ve had one going and one covering.
“You adapt to the style of your manager, you play for the team and the rest doesn’t matter.”