Having recently peered into the murky world of Everton’s 5 worst signings in deprecating style (Click Here for Everton’s worst signings), its time to pick oneself up, dust oneself down, take the cue from The Life of some fella called Brian, and look on the bright side of life.
Hence, I’ve listed my top 5 Everton players. As with the worst signings, I’ve kept it relevant to my subjective memories and players who mean something to me (I’m not lazy, honest; it just keeps it more authentic). Given the rich tapestry of talent, and with my formative years supporting Everton involving many a relegation dogfight, this clearly leaves a lot untouched and so the list wont include the likes of Reid, Ratcliffe and Ball (by which I mean Alan, not Michael…and by Michael I mean the left back, not the singer…and by ‘singer’ I mean annoying little tit whose smug face makes me want to smash my admittedly frail fist into a pile of bricks just to ease the violent impulses).
So, again, please add your own subjective suggestions and memories from your time on the terraces … no wrong answers, just beautiful nostalgia…
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum
1. Andrei Kanchelskis:
Perhaps my all-time favourite player, signed from Man United in the 1995-96 season for £5 million, Kanchelskis’s’s’s’s’ stay may have been brief – joining Fiorentina for £8 million midway through his second season – but he left an impact. An explosive burst of pace, astute finish and a deft cross made him an enthralling winger. Most importantly, he excited; inducing the heavenly rumbling sound of seats flapping up, fans rising in expectation, when he strode forward. His named adorned my Everton shirt (an expensive business, sorry dad) and, in addition to scoring two derby day goals, as an Everton fan growing up in Sheffield the hat-trick away at Hillsborough stands out in my memory.
2. Duncan Ferguson:
Ah, Big Dunc, another favourite of mine; Everton tattoo adorning his arm, fist firmly clenched, a brooding menace in his eyes, Ferguson is a Goodison idol. Hard as some particularly big f*** off nails (even confronting and constraining a burglar in his home) he valiantly led the line as Everton continually found themselves at the wrong of the table. Though injury prone, Ferguson was a true talisman, possessing a deadly head (and I am referring to a head used for heading a football); standout moments include scoring in the 2 – 0 home victory over Liverpool in 1994 and the winner against Man United in 2005, prompting goose bump inducing celebrations.
3. Neville Southall:
Though I only saw him in his later, erm, more ‘rounded’ years, Southall was still an immense force and reliable performer. Distinctive and iconic, Big Nev was Everton’s greatest ever goalkeeper and up there with the best to have graced the English game. Part of the infamous 1985 side, claiming the Footballer of the Year award the same season, Southall has an impressive collection of silverware; including two League titles, two FA Cups, a European Cup Winners’ Cup. It’s the double save against Man United in the 1995 FA Cup final which stands out for me.
4. Mikel Arteta:
To the present day now. Costing a measly £2 million from Real Sociedad, twinkle toed Arteta is a player of finesse and subtlety. When not playing he is sorely missed, when he does he’s the crux of the side. Always very clever on the ball, Mikel never seems to lose possession; he also draws fouls like moths to a flame.
5. Dixie Dean:
Famously bagging 60 league goals during the 1927-28 season, Dean is still regarded as one of English footballs most prolific forwards. Obviously I have not seen Dixie Dean live, but he still makes my list for symbolic value. Growing up, he seemed to take on a mythological status; enchanted stories of goal scoring feats. So, as some sort of marauding mythical creature – a little like the Loch Ness Monster (not a particularly flattering equation, but I’ll defend it to the death) – the legend of Dixie Dean makes the list.
Before I receive an overflow of bilious hate-mail, I am not saying these are the definitive greatest ever Everton players or declaring Kanchelskis was better than Graeme Sharp, for example. This would clearly be ridiculous. The list is from my experiences, so – whether as Evertonians or neutral bystanders with a particular Everton player you admired, or dreaded facing – I invite you to add yours…
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