Seamus Coleman is happily back training with Everton, but as he continues focusing down the long, narrow path to recovery, he is not losing sight of the bigger picture.
The Irish captain has consistently been willing to help out supporters who are in need, and this week he has proved no different and in doing so, has rescued one of the best football stories of the year.
It began last week. Eoin Mulligan works in Supermacs in Athlone and has struck up a friendship with an Everton-supporting customer, Francis. Eoin decided to repay Francis for brightening up his working life by buying him an Everton jersey, and posted this to his Facebook:
This man's name is Francis.
He lives above where I work and comes down to me every day to talk about the beautiful club we both support.
Francis has aspergers syndrome on the autistic spectrum. He has a few habits like rubbing people's hair and asking women if there married.
He is always full of beans with a smile on his face. Over the last two years I have got to know him very well.
I admire Fracis because even though he has had alot go on in his life, He still carries around this infectious energy that makes you laugh and always brightens up my days at work.
Francis is a die hard Everton fan like myself. So i took it upon myself to give back to the person who has lightened up many a shift in work for me over the past 2 years.
Today I gave him the new Everton jersey with his favourite Everton player on the back - "Wayne Rooney". To see the joy it brought him really made my day.
I hope more people can be compassionate towards him in the future.
Small gestures like this can really change someone's life.
He told me to tell you all "Up the toffess", and that "He really wants us to sign Alexis Sanchez"
Us blues will always stick together no matter what.
In recognition, Eoin's boss at Supermancs surprised both with a trip to see Everton vs Hajduk Split at Goodison last Thursday, along with a chance to meet Ronald Koeman and Wayne Rooney.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out as planned, as Francis fell ill in Liverpool, and was unable to make the match. Eoin then set up a GoFundMe page to raise the cash needed to make another trip.
The target was €1,100....and that was surpassed by Coleman alone, who pledged €2,000. He also left the following message:
Sorry you couldn't make it to the game Francis. I hope your feeling better now. Hopefully this helps get you and Eoin your flights and accomadition for another game and I'm sure the club will look after you as always. Seamie coleman.
Eoin posted the following message to his Facebook in shocked recognition:
I am literally speechless.
Not only is Seamus an inspiration to thousands of people across Ireland but he is also one of Francis favourite players of all time. The fact that someone of Seamus stature could reach out like this and help someone says alot about his character.
These last few days have proved to me the world is alot brighter of a place than we think.
And because of people like all of you that donated you have helped give Francis another chance at the trip of his dream and in turn helped raise awareness and much needed funds for autism in Ireland. I only hope we can meet in person so I can show you how much this has meant to me. You are a modern day hero. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Also all surplus donations will be donated to Aspire, The Asperger Syndrome Association of Ireland in Francis name. This has been a beautiful journey. Thank each and every one of you.
The aim is for both to fly to Everton's next home game against Spurs, where they should also get a chance to thank Coleman personally.