Republic of Ireland international Seamus Coleman has had an impressive start to the 2013-14 season, but the highly-rated defender is aware of the need to continue his fine form for both club and country.
The 24-year-old scored his first Premier League goal since January 2011 for Everton against Norwich on the opening weekend of the new campaign, just days after proudly wearing the captain’s armband during the closing stages of the Boys in Green’s friendly against Wales.
However, the marauding right-back is fully focused on next month’s pivotal World Cup qualification double-header against Sweden and Austria; two games which will decide Ireland’s fate in Group C and admits they will be the biggest games he’s played in.
"Next month’s games against Sweden and Austria are going to be massive," Coleman told Fifa.com. "I think that the outcome of those matches will have a massive impact come the end of the campaign. But those games next month will definitely be the most important that I will have played in ever. It’s going to tell the tale whether we go to the World Cup or not.
"We have to beat Sweden and then build towards the Austria game."
The Donegal native has flourished at Goodison Park since moving from Sligo Rovers in 2009 and has become one of the leading full-backs in England while cementing his place in Giovanni Trapattoni’s starting line-up. Coleman is full of praise for his international manager despite the pressure the Italian tactician finds himself under.
"We’re fortunate to have a very experienced coach in Giovanni Trapattoni to guide us through it," Coleman said. "We’re working for a man who has been through it all, he’s seen it all. He’s more tactically defensive, so I’ve learned a lot from that. Hopefully we’ll be able to get to a World Cup under him."
Having received his first-call up by Trapattoni in October 2010, Coleman has gone from strength-to-strength and has featured in five of Ireland’s six Group C qualifiers to date. The versatile operator has enjoyed a rapid rise and has come a long way since playing centre back for local side St Catherine’s of Killybegs.
"Gaelic football was my first love until I was about 18," Coleman admitted. "I played at all the underage levels and was a big part of the county scene. I was quite successful and really enjoyed it. But then I had to make the decision on whether I should become a full-time professional with Sligo Rovers or stick as an amateur and play Gaelic.
"I thought it was a chance worth taking and fortunately it’s worked out well for me. But that said, the roots of the Gaelic game has helped me: it’s a rough and tumble sport. If you get hit you get back up and it’s made me a fit lad," Coleman explained.
Coleman is desperate to represent his country in a major tournament after being omitted from the 23-man squad for Euro 2012 and feels that the decision by Trapattoni made him stronger and hungrier to improve.
"My goal is in international football is to get to a major tournament and play a part in it – and to represent Ireland at a World Cup would be amazing. It’s something every footballer strives to do," he said.
"You want to play for your country and you definitely want to play for your country in a World Cup. We all want to be there playing against the best players in the world."
Giovanni Trapattoni will name his squad for next month’s World Cup Qualifiers against Sweden and Austria on Sunday August 25.