Ronald Koeman has hailed Seamus Coleman’s dedication and professionalism and believes the Everton defender’s strength of character will be an advantage as he bids to overcome a horrific leg injury.
Coleman faces months on the sidelines after needing surgery on a broken tibia and fibula following a tackle made by Neil Taylor in the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday.
Koeman revealed he spoke to Coleman on Saturday, when he was still coming to terms with the injury, which the Dutchman acknowledged is a bombshell for all concerned.
“It’s a big, big blow for the player and a big, big blow for the club,” Koeman told the club’s official website.
“It takes time for everybody to come to terms with something like this and, of course, that is felt most deeply by Seamus himself.
“He was in pain when we spoke – it is normal to have some pain after such an injury – and, naturally, he was feeling very down. This is all normal. But he knows he will have a lot of support.”
Coleman was due to leave hospital in Dublin on Wednesday having undergone surgery to pin his broken tibia and fibula on Saturday morning.
He faces a long road back to recovery, but his resolve will be a huge benefit, according to Koeman, who said: “In all my years in football, Seamus is one of the best professionals I’ve ever worked with at any club.
“His dedication to the game, his attitude and motivation are always where they should be and that’s 100 per cent, and he’s like that in training every day as well as in games.
“That mentality will really be helpful to him now in not only coming to terms with what has happened but in setting out on the road to recovery and, over time, in him building himself once more to the level he has maintained over many years here at Everton. That strength of character will be a big, big thing.
“He is valued very much as a player, which makes it really difficult that we are talking about an injury that will keep him out for six, seven months, something like that.
“But I know he will come back strongly, that’s the type of man he is.”
Everton team-mate and Wales captain Ashley Williams admitted he felt “sick” when he realised what had happened to close friend Coleman.
Williams told Everton’s official website, www.evertonfc.com: “I didn’t know it was so serious. After the game, I went straight into their dressing room to speak to James McCarthy, and he told me Seamus had gone to hospital and had broken his leg.
“It was just a weird feeling from everyone around the dressing rooms. Even people who don’t know Seamus like I do were gutted. Neil Taylor was completely gutted. He was sitting on the floor virtually in tears.
“He asked me to check if it would be okay to go to see Seamus in hospital. He got his number off me and sent him a text straight away.
“When I found out it was a broken leg, it made me feel sick inside because it’s someone who I like so much and is one of my mates.
“He’s going to have up and down days, but the way he is, I’m sure his determination will help with his rehab and hopefully we’ll have him back sooner rather than later and stronger than ever.”
It proved to be a costly international break for the Toffees, with McCarthy having aggravated a hamstring problem during the warm-up before the Wales game, and defender Ramiro Funes Mori damaging a knee playing for Argentina.