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Interviews

EXCLUSIVE – Neville Southall speaks to NSNO

Neville SouthallNever shy to voice his opinion when he played at Goodison Park, and having given frank opinions on the club in recent months, NSNO caught up with Neville Southall as he prepares to take on The PFA Borneo Cup in aid of Children Today, a charity he feels strongly about supporting.

Still very much an Evertonian, Neville couldn’t help speaking passionately about the club he calls “my club” during a very enjoyable 45 minute interview, the first part of which you can read today, and we’ll bring you the second part tomorrow.

You’re going out to Borneo next May to take part in the PFA Borneo Cup in aid of Children Today, what was it that made you get involved in that?

It was something that, once I was offered the chance to do, I just couldn’t say ‘No.’  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to go out there and do all the activities, and it’s all in the name of raising money for disabled kids.

Everyone who’s there has raised £3,500 to be there, and we’re working with some really good football lads, who were all great in the game, and it just looked like something really exciting to be a part of.

Are you doing any special preparations for the event, or are you just focusing on your usual training routines?

At the moment, no, as I’ve just got so much on. But I’m hoping to start after Christmas with training, but in all fairness, I don’t know how I’ll train for the events during the Cup unless I was to go rock climbing or canoeing on my own. But I think the aim is to just keep reasonably fit, have a lot of fun, and try and raise as much as you can for the kids.

As a goalkeeper for most of your career, do you think any of the out-field players will have any advantage over you from a fitness point of view?

I don’t think so, no. Most of the stuff’s with your hands out there isn’t it, so I might have an advantage over them! It’ll be mostly hand-eye co-ordination, which I’ve been doing for my whole career, so after 30 years of it I don’t think I’ll be far short on that one!

It’s up to the captains really, as to how much we actually do. We can either stand back as managers and make the teams do it all, or we can have a laugh and join in, and I think most of the lads will be joining in, so if we can make fools of ourselves then our teams won’t feel that bad.

I think there’ll be a competition between us as well, the ex-players, we’ll all want to win it.

You mention your team – can Everton fans get involved?

Absolutely, at the moment there’s still places to be filled, so any one who thinks they can help me make it to the finish line get in touch! It really is going to be the adventure of a lifetime and teamwork is going to be the key to success.

Anyone who is interested should get in touch with Kate or Alicia by calling 0161 929 8700, they can answer any questions and make sure an information pack is sent out to you.

I’d also like to tell people not to be daunted by the fundraising requirements; the guys at the charity are a great bunch of people who will work with you to make sure you reach your target, offering advice and support all the way

Have you developed any rivalries yet with the other captains?

Well, one of the other captains is a Liverpool lad isn’t he, so that’ll be straight off that one!

Was there anything in particular about the charity which made you want to participate?

Yeah, the fact that it’s for local kids, they’re all disabled kids in the North West, and obviously the North West is a very dear place to me having been an Everton footballer for 16 years. And personally I think the North West is the best place you could ever play football in.

Interested participants can raise money for kids in their local area too meaning they’ll be able to see the benefits of their hard work in action.

You spent 16 years at Goodison as you said, and you played consecutive games for 6 years of those, are there any games that stand out as the best that you played in?

I thought my best game was probably Coventry away when Tony Cottee scored, but I spose you remember the games like Bayern Munich, and the Milk Cup, the first time we got to Wembley together as a team, then getting beat in the replay. I was talking to Reidy the other day, and that was really when we grew up together as a team, and we realised that we were capable of taking anybody on, and when you think, from that Final replay, even though we got beat, we thought that we were a team, and that we could achieve something.

But the team definitely grew up that day, and luckily we did go on and do well.

After that though, Bayern Munich, which was the best game I’ve ever been involved in, with any club, anywhere in the world. I think it was more the people that wanted that game than the players.

I’ve never taken half an hour to get round the ground in the bus before, it was just one of those atmosphere’s where you had to be there. A lot of people say on the TV, “Oh, you have to be here” and I used to think it was a load of rubbish, but when you’re actually there, and experiencing it, I don’t think you’ll ever experience anything like that again.

Wembley was great, but not a patch on Goodison Park in a semi-final like that, it was just phenomenal.

I think the people made, as I don’t think the game was the best game in the world, although I think the way we won it was good, because it was “up and at ’em” British style. But I think it was the whole thing, it was as if Merseyside wanted us to win, and I think that, if we’d played that game anywhere else, that we might have got beat.

However, I think that night showed what Merseyside people are all about, full of passion, very loyal people, and I think they got their reward that night. It wasn’t so much for the players, because to be fair, once we’d won that, we knew we’d win the final anyway.

I don’t think any other game could have been a better game than that, or that there could have been a better atmosphere anywhere, so once you’ve been through that, the final was a bit of an anti-climax – and there’s not many times you can say that is there, it was a bit like beating Man United in the FA Cup Semi-Final only to play Ipswich in the final!

I think the people won us the competition against Bayern, because, well, at the final we knew we were going to win, they had no hope because we were miles better than them, and it was a nice reward for the people for us to have won the Cup Winners Cup.

In the Semi Final, Howard Kendall told the team to just play it towards the Gwladys Street and we’d suck one in for you, did the team have the same attitude at the time?

Yeah, because people think he only said that the once, but he said that on a regular basis, and because he’d played at Goodison, he knew it was true. But we always loved kicking towards the Gwladys Street end in the days before the away supporters were moved round, because any time we were down that end, we’d have a good chance of getting back into a game.

It was nice then, when the Park End came to the fore when the club moved the away supporters round there, and we got the effect from both ends then, and one end was blowing while the other end was sucking, so we always had a chance at each end from then on.

But I honestly thought that Howard got it spot on on the night, that we had the sort of players that could do what we needed to do. Andy frightened them to death, but there’s nothing wrong with that, you use what you’ve got. They didn’t like it, but at the end of the day, history says that we won the Cup Winners Cup, and that’s enough for us!

Absolutely! Now, as well as playing in so many matches for the club, you made a huge amount of World Class saves, are there any that you remember and think back as your best?

I don’t know really, sometimes saves are better due to the timing of the game and how important the game was. I like to think that I was pretty consistent at making good saves when I had to. To be fair to them in front of me though, I didn’t have a lot to do, so when I actually did do something, it probably appeared better than what it was.

Mind you, I made saves that I thought were excellent in training, but no-one gives a monkeys about what you do in training do they! It’s transferring it onto the pitch, and if you make one or two good saves during the match then it’s good.

Take the Tottenham game, we were going for the league, you make a decent save, and it becomes an even better save. Then the one from Imre Viradi I thought was a decent save to be fair, although I thought I made better, but maybe they were in games that didn’t really matter.

I tend to remember most of the mistakes and think “Shit, that was embarrassing,” but I don’t sit down and think of a particular game and think “Yeah, I made a great save there”

As you said, the defenders in front of you were fantastic in the 80’s, for you, who was the best back four to play in front of you?

{Without any hesitation} Gary Stevens was the best right-back I’ve played with.

I think John Bailey was the best left-back I played with, I think he had everything, he could tackle, he weren’t bad in the air, and I think his use of the ball was better than Pat Van den Hauwe’s. Plus, in the dressing room he was just absolutely crackers, which is probably as good as anything else, and to be honest, I’m surprised he didn’t get the Coach of the England squad. He was a joy to play with, he was really honest, you knew what you were getting, and he was always willing to play football.

And I think, and this is quite harsh on Derek [Mountfield], but I think that Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Watson were the best centre backs because they had everything.

Dave wasn’t blessed with the best pace, but he was magnificent in the air. He was brave as a lion, tackled everything that moved, while Rats was quick as anything, and nasty as anything!

I think people don’t give him credit for that, he’s always got away with it, because he used to do it quite slyly. He’d give an awful lot of stick out, and he was quick as lightening, as well as being really good upstairs. He could think his way through a football game, and if you’re going to have a captain, you’ve got to have a captain who can think on his feet.

I also think that one of the most under-rated defenders we ever had was Alan Harper, him and Gary Ablett did magnificent for us. Alan played in a lot of positions, and got on with what had to be done, but I think I was spoilt because, well look at the tradition we have of defenders, the likes of Labone, Wilson, Ratcliffe, Derek [Mountfield], Dave Watson, so obviously the next one’s have to be pretty special.

I suppose the next one’s after that were Richard Gough and that, but he didn’t stay around long enough for me to call him an “Everton” Everton player. He wasn’t quite there long enough.

Joey Yobo might have a chance, he’s taken to Everton, and Everton seems to have taken to him.

Our Exclusive interview with Neville Southall continues tomorrow, when he talks about the problems facing the team this season and how David Moyes compares to managers he has worked with in the past.

Read the second part here

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NSNO Staff

Staff Writer at NSNO.co.uk
NSNO Staff writers maintain the news on the site and ensure the site is updated frequently with the latest Everton news. Starting in 2004, NSNO has always been at the forefront of bringing you the latest Everton news and rumours, building a large forum and growing social media presence, which you can follow by clicking the links to the left.
  







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