The first time I heard of Phil Jagielka I was sat in a pub in Liverpool half-watching Sheffield United against Arsenal in The FA Cup.
He was playing at the heart of defence when his goalkeeper was sent off, and a young future Everton captain pulled on the Number One shirt and played in goal for the rest of the game, instantly becoming a hero in Yorkshire.
A couple of years later when he signed for Everton there was excitement that he could partner Joseph Yobo and the pair could become a long-standing rock at the heart of the Everton side. Little did we know that Jagielka would become THE rock at the heart of our defence for over a decade to come.
Yobo went – thankfully – but Jags just kept on showing everything you want from an Everton centre-half. He had pace (to burn), could read a striker’s mind, stuck his head in the danger zone far too often at each end of the pitch, and had a right foot like a traction engine.
Evertonians and Jagierlka have enjoyed some wonderful moments together. From Nuremburg in the UEFA Cup, through Wembley in the FA Cup semi final shoot out win over Manchester United, to his Merseyside derby rocket more recently. But he never lifted a trophy in an Everton shirt.
And that is a travesty.
Jagielka has played alongside some of the best players to wear an Everton shirt since the great side of the mid 1980’s, and if they had all been in the same side, they could have conquered anyone in their path.
Sadly for Jags, and us, he played in an era where Everton couldn’t afford to build sides around their star players, and instead we are left wondering if Phil Jagielka really is the greatest Everton to never win a trophy with the Blues.
We wish you well Jags, and hope you don’t leave it too long to come back and see us soon.