Having made just one League Cup appearance for the Blues this term, Hibbert could be forgiven for taking a purely spectator role, but such is the atmosphere among the squad that instead he is working hard and hoping to regain enough fitness to push for a starting place this season.
“Obviously being a lot more positive in his ways, he’s got his own set way of playing and he wants us to be positive,” Hibbert told NSNO of the way that Martinez has changed things at Everton.
“In training the drills that he puts on are targeted to the way he wants us to play, which is attacking and not concentrating solely on being hard to beat.
“He’s got his ways, but being a defender you need to be able to tackle, and I don’t think that will ever go out of the game. He’s [Martinez] always talked to me about my experience at the club and because I’ve played so many games for Everton he knows what I’m capable of. He’s told me that he’s happy to have me around and I don’t think it’s the case that he hasn’t got plans for me, but I think Seamus [Coleman] has just done unbelievably well.”
When Hibbert was playing in Everton’s youth team, he played as a central midfielder, but when asked if he thought he could turn back the clocks and play there again now that the new manager favours two defensive midfielders, he was his usual modest self.
“I think those years are gone now,” he laughed. “I think in those days people saw enough of me in midfield and put me at right back! It’s probably up to Ossie and all the young lads we’ve got in there now.”
Having made over 300 appearances for the Blues, Hibbert has plenty of games to pick from when asked which one was his favourite, but it is his debut that he remembers most fondly.
“We’ve had some great derby victories here over the years, but number one is probably my debut. It was unbelievable really. I didn’t know anything about it until the morning of the game when we got down there [West Ham in 2001).”
Despite making so many first team appearances, and holding the record for playing more European games for the Blues than anyone else, Hibbert has scored just once – in a pre-season friendly for his testimonial. Not that it bothers him, and he is following Kevin Ratcliffe in the story-telling stakes with the ball being struck from further and further away each time he tells the tale.
A free kick from 20 yards out against AEK Athens at Goodison Park sparked a pitch invasion from Evertonians who had waited over a decade to see Hibbert score, and many wonder why he doesn’t take more of them now we have seen what he can do.
“I think it was struck from about 40 yards out that wasn’t it?” he quipped. “It’s one of them, and the manager didn’t even want me to take anything but the lads had a bit of a laugh and Bainsey called me over and I just hit it.”
Despite currently being injured, manager Roberto Martinez has spoken positively about Hibbert this season and talk has started to turn to new contracts for the right back who is out of contract in the summer, but Hibbert is unsure as to where his future lies. “I don’t know,” he said honestly when asked about his future. “Nothing’s happening at the moment so we’ll just have to see. I want to get my fitness back and try and push on for the rest of the season.
“I hope to start training again in the next week when it all settles down, but it shouldn’t be too long [before he’s back fit]
“The lads that we’ve got here is a great bunch of lads, there’s help everywhere around, which is the way that Everton always has been. It’s just fantastic this club.
“Over the years, seeing a lot of the new lads come in and saying how easy it is to settle in at the club because it’s made easy for them, which has got to help on the pitch.”
With his defensive colleague Sylvain Distin turning 36 this month but showing no signs of slowing down, Hibbert was left wondering what the Frenchman’s secret was when we asked how players keep going for so long.
“I wish I knew what he does. Overseas players who come from a different style of football know when to sleep and I’m presuming he sleeps during the day. The likes of Fellaini and Louis [Saha] could sleep anywhere, they love their sleep and I’m assuming Sylvain’s the same.”
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