It’s easy to reel off your favourite players of the last twenty years or so, but there are some players who have done a great job for the Blues that hardly get a mention in those lists.
Here, we explore the players that might not make your top ten of favourites in the Premier League era, but who deserve all the credit for their performances while they were at the club.
10. Victor Anichebe
Never quite embraced by the Everton faithful in his 10 years at senior level at the club, but never-the-less given opportunity to shine under David Moyes before being sold to West Brom for £6m in 2013.
Not a prolific goalscorer, but of his 18 goals for the Blues many of them were vital ones and he earned his side valuable points when he did find the net. Often appearing angry in celebration when he did score, Anichebe also seemed to spend a lot of time on his backside complaining about being pushed over by much smaller defenders, but towards the end of his time at Everton – while used as main striker thanks to Nikica Jelavic’s drop in form – he appeared to have grown up a lot.
A Nigerian international who scored valuable goals and looked much more comfortable playing European football, Anichebe should be remembered fondly.
9. Joseph Yobo
Another Nigerian international, and one who captained his country frequently during his time at Everton, Yobo is more commonly remembered for his mishaps; tying your shoelaces as the opposition attack (and then score) is probably not the best of choices as a Premier League defender.
The first African player to captain the side, and for a few years the holder of the record for the most appearances in an Everton shirt for an overseas player, Yobo was Mr Consistent during his early years at Everton.
Yobo made over 200 appearances for Everton, and was pivotal in European campaigns alongside long-term defensive partner Joleon Lescott.
8. Earl Barrett
Manager Joe Royle says that Earl Barrett is often overlooked by Evertonians because he was doing the work of two players down the right hand side as the wingers in front of him rarely – if ever – tracked back, leading to a heavy workload.
Whether he’s right or not, Barrett’s name is one that is greeted with groans around Goodison Park more often than not. Unlucky to have been cup-tied and miss out on the Blues’ FA Cup win in 1995, he made 78 appearances for the Blues despite being dogged by injury.
A hard working and honest professional, Barrett was the Phil Neville of his era. Make of that what you will!
7. Leon Osman
Joe Cole once described Leon as the most technically gifted player he’d ever played alongside and the veteran Everton midfielder still shows a class first touch and a reading of the game that is often second to none.
Scorer of some vital goals, and now an inspiration to younger Everton players coming through, Osman deserves any praise he receives and his testimonial was rightly well attended.
6. Kevin Kilbane
Not many hearts skipped a beat when the Irishman was signed in the summer of 2003, but David Moyes knew what he was getting with “Killer” after he had managed him at Preston.
Hard working, grit and determination, coupled with a great eye for a pass often made up for the fact that he looked like he was running in treacle, despite still only being in his mid-20’s and he helped the Blues to several European qualifications including the fourth place finish in 2005.
5. Marcus Bent
Marcus Bent slipped under the radar as he signed for Everton, his eighth club, in the summer of 2004, but he soon blasted onto the scene with important goals.
His seven goals were perhaps overshadowed by his supporting act of Tim Cahill, but Bent’s goals against Aston Villa, Southampton, and Manchester City were all vital in ensuring the Blues had enough points on the board to secure fourth place.
Bent quickly fell away from the first team after David Moyes signed James Beattie, and moved away under something of a cloud when he signed for Charlton Athletic, but his contribution to the 2004-05 season should not be overlooked.
4. Steve Watson
“Sweaty Steve” as he is known around these parts played everywhere you could think of except in goal – although he probably would have done a decent job there as well.
Bagged a hat trick against Leeds United in their last Premier League season when Walter Smith used him as a striker and provided many a ball into the box under David Moyes as well.
The sweat stains on his shirt showed that he always put in maximum effort – although they could easily have hidden any drop in work rate as they were there from the first minute of every match.
3. Nuno Valente
Rumoured to have had a “best looking player” clause in his contract, he had to fight hard for that to remain when we signed Andy Van der Meyde.
Valente was signed on the recommendation of Jose Mourinho and quickly replaced Sandro Pistone at left back, and although he took a while to get used to the pace of the Premier League, it was only when Leighton Baines signed that he was replaced.
Everton enjoyed European qualification more of than not while Valente was at the club, and his contribution to goals was key.
2. Gareth Farrelly
Farrelly will always be remembered for his goal in 1998 that kept the Blues in the Premier League, but his ability on the ball is something that is often forgotten.
His 27 appearances for the Blues weren’t made during the best period of our recent history, and he may not have lived up to Howard Kendall’s proclamations that he would become a household name, but his one and only goal saved the Blues.
Ironically, he was later sold to the club that his goal had condemned to relegation, Bolton.
Hands up who really cared when Steven Naismtih was signed from Rangers on a free after their financial troubles saw them relegated to the bottom tier of Scottish football?
Now hands up who wouldn’t swap him for Lionel Messi?
An uninspiring signing under David Moyes, Naismith was played out of position under his new boss and the Bullens Road Boo Boys immediately seized upon the Scot’s inability to play on the right win. It looked as though he was doomed to move down a level after a year or two struggling at Everton, but then a new manager came in and saw his ability.
Moved to his favoured position of playing just behind the striker(s), Naismith has blossomed. In the space of a few months he turned himself around from zero to hero at Goodison Park, but many insist he isn’t really showing anything new.
His hard work ethic, his passing, his finishing, they were all evident in parts in his early Everton career, but now he is being used in his right position, Naismith has become a firm fans’ favourite.
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