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pounds 60K WAS A FAIR DEAL; Sligo boss Cook delighted to see Coleman's progress.

Byline: Greg O'Keeffe

REMIND people that Seamus Coleman cost Everton just pounds 60,000 and they shake their head with disbelief.

Few can comprehend that a player who has taken the Premier League by storm this season, scored five goals from an unfamiliar position, and pushed himself to the brink of international football, could be signed for such a paltry fee - not even enough to pay the weekly wage of some of his team-mates.

Surely it was a piece of shrewd business by the Blues that even bordered on a spot of day-light robbery? Not so, according to the manager who sold him, former Tranmere player and Southport boss Paul Cook.

The plain-speaking 43-year-old Scouser has no regrets over the transfer in January 2009 that saw Coleman join the Blues for that minimal fee.

If anything, says Cook after his former protege yesterday signed a new four-and-a-half year deal with the Toffees, it is the rest of English football who should harbour regrets.

"There is no sense that we were underpaid for him," he says. "No regrets from us. We got a fair fee for a young League of Ireland player, with add ons based on appearances and if he plays international football.

"The people kicking themselves will be the chief scouts of all the other clubs who looked at him and dithered. Or the clubs who spoke to us and offered little bits here and there, or tried to get him for pounds 30,000.

"We got a good price for him and full credit to the lad for making the most of his opportunity."

Cook, who last year guided Sligo to FAI Cup success, speaks glowingly of the unassuming Donegal man who he nurtured for a while, and admits the whole club share in a sense of pride at his progress.

Coleman's stay on Merseyside will now run until at least 2015, and the only thing which has surprised Cook is the speed at which the defender has become a first team regular in David Moyes' side.

"It's been a pleasant surprise that he's had such an immediate impact," he says. "From being on the fringes when he first went over, he's now playing week in week out.

"I originally thought it was a great move for him because he'd carry on his footballing education with Alan Stubbs and Andy Holden in the reserves.

"It's been a meteoric rise. People forget the size of the gap he has bridged. He hasn't just stepped up from the Championship or something.

"He's gone from League of Ireland to the Premier League. I'm not sure there are many player's who've ever done that. I remember he came on against Spurs last season and changed the game - it was fantastic.

"It helps that the fans took to him massively from day one. It's always a boost for a lad at a new club when you have an affinity with the supporters.

"That's probably because they can sense the type of lad he is. He's the sort of lad anyone would love to manage, from a great background with a lovely family.

"He'll never cause you a moment of trouble and will get on with everyone and do whatever he's asked. He hasn't been groomed by the academy system in England.

"If anything Seamus is the opposite of that. He wasn't on a contract from the age of 16.

"He has raw enthusiasm, and a love of the game. He loves playing and getting stuck in - there's no cynicism."

Predictably Cook cannot see the lucrative terms of Coleman's new deal changing him as a person.

"Money can change some footballers." he says. "They start believing their own hype but I hope he always stays the same lad who left us. I think he will.

"Maybe lads with more natural talent than Seamus have fallen by the wayside over the years, but with him you will never want for desire, effort or courage - and he will only get better."

Typically, Coleman was keen to insist his focus remains on improving, despite signing the new deal at the same time as fellow 22-year-old Victor Anichebe yesterday.

"I just want to keep going now," he said. "When I came over first it was a two-year contract and I treated it as a trial.

"I got a new one whilst I was at Blackpool, and to get another one so quickly was a surprise because that's three in a short space of time.

"When I go out on the pitch I get my head down and I have a go," said Coleman.

"Even if it's not going well for me on the ball, I'll keep running around and giving it 100 per cent and the fans appreciate that."

Coleman will now be hoping to repeat his achievement from December on Saturday, when he scored against West Ham as the sides met at Upton Park.

"West Ham aren't going so well and they are going to be fighting for it but we need the points at Goodison," he said.

COLEMAN FACTFILE . He was born in Donegal on October 11 1988. He was spotted for Sligo Rovers when he lined up against them for his hometown club St Catherine's of Killybegs. He was recommended to David Moyes by his former Parkhead team-mate Willie McStay and signed for pounds 60,000 in January 2009 with the Blues fending off interest from Birmingham and Celtic. After overcoming surgery to correct a career-threatening blister, his Everton debut was a baptism of fire as he played at left-back in their 5-0 Europa League loss at Benfica in October 2009. He made his Goodison Park bow as a substitute against Tottenham in December 2009 and was named Man-of-the-match in a 2-2 draw. Loaned out to Blackpool at the end of the 2009/10 season, he helped the Tangerines to promotion to the Premier League with a play-off final victory over Cardiff at Wembley. He netted his first Everton goal in a Carling Cup tie at Brentford last September and he has since followed it up with strikes against Blackpool, West Ham, Tottenham and Scunthorpe. His rapid progress was yesterday rewarded with a new four-and-a-half year deal at Goodison

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RAPID PROGRESS: Everton's Seamus Coleman
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jan 21, 2011
Words:1041
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