Seamus, Rachel and Lily Coleman marked a momentous occasion together as the soccer star was honour with the Freedom of Donegal on Friday evening.
Seamus Coleman admitted to being “a little emotional” at the Civic Reception to award the Republic of Ireland captain Freedom of the County in Lifford.
Coleman was joined by his wife Rachel and daughter Lilly, parents Henry and Máire and brothers Stephen and Francis at Lifford County House.
The Everton full-back’s award sees him follow in the sporting footsteps of the likes of former Republic of Ireland goalkeepers Shay Given and Packie Bonner, 1992 All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Molloy and Jim McGuinness and his panel, who captured Sam Maguire in 2012, as well as Finn Harps’ FAI Cup winners of 1974.
The Killybegs man took time before the ceremony to meet and take photos with his home fans before accepting his award.
Seamus suffered a broken fibula and tibia in Ireland’s qualifier against Wales in March following a dangerous tackle that saw Welsh left-back Neil Taylor given a straight red card in the scoreless draw.
“It means a lot to me,” he said of the award. “The journey I’ve been on – obviously it’s not been as straight-forward as you think – it’s been a tough journey with plenty of setbacks along the way and big decisions to make. It’s a little emotional.
“I don’t want to look back too much as I want to keep going and keep driving forward. I got emotional. To get recognised by people in my own town – they’ve been amazing – but to get recognised by people in my own county, as I said, it’s a massive honour. They just don’t hand them out very easily.
“My favourite car journey of the year is when we get to pack up and head to Holyhead after the last game of the season,” he said. “This year it’s a bit different. I’m well settled over there with my wife and daughter so I go in now and get my bit done and I’m really focusing hard.
“You can’t underestimate how important rehab is, whether it’s changing your diet and eating well so when you do come back then you’re in tip-top shape. Mentally I’ve no concerns and I know that I will back. It’s a very clichéd thing to say about being fitter and stronger but I’ve no doubt I will be coming back the same player.”
Coleman holds no grudges against Taylor following the tackle and said the Aston Villa played has been in contact since.
“Look football is a contact sport,” Coleman added. “No player goes out to break another player’s leg on a football pitch. There’s no hard feelings. I’ve got my own journey to concentrate on.
“It was a traumatic injury. It’s a long-term injury. I got my head around it the first couple of days. The first couple of nights were a bit tough because you were in a lot of pain. But I’ve got my head around it and am kind of enjoying the challenge. I’ve had plenty of challenges this far in my career and this is just another one.
The 28-year-old is looking forward to getting back in the game, but has not set himself any targets of a possible return following the injury that looks likely to keep him out for the remainder of the Republic of Ireland’s qualifiers for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
However, he will join up with the Irish squad for moral support ahead of their next qualifier, which is against Austria in Dublin on Sunday, June 11.
Cathaoirleach of the County of Donegal, Cllr Terence Slowey, presented the Freedom of the County Award to Coleman and tributes were paid by Chief Executive Seamus Neely and all the represented parties – Ciaran Brogan of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin’s Noel Jordan, Martin Harley of Fine Gael and Niamh Kennedy, who represented the Independents.