You exalt their attributes and stay blissfully ignorant of their faults; for this unique individual there is, in the infamous words of Morrissey, a light that never goes out. They may not necessarily be the best, they may not be a ‘club legend’, and sometimes they may actually be quite s**t, but there’s something that catches you and clings on, like an uncomfortable and repulsive bout of crab lice. So, anyway, here’s my salute to the apple of my worn-out, weary eye; Andrei Kanchelskis (of Everton fame).
After signing for Man United from Shakhtar Donetsk for £650,000 in 1991, Andrei featured heavily at Old Trafford. This, somewhat inevitably, was also where he experienced his most fruitful spell; winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup. But it’s as an Everton player he became prevalent to this young spectator.
An alleged fall-out with manager Alex Ferguson (only going to be one outcome there), and a trophy-less 1994-95 season, led to an Old Trafford reshuffle and Kanchelskis was part of the big-name exodus. Thus, a £5million move to Everton ensued; Everton, conversely, having been partly responsibly for that barren season at Man United, having beaten them 1-0 in the FA Cup final (always worth a mention).
Kanchelskis was only at Everton for a brief spell – joining Fiorentina for £8 million midway through his second season – but he left a vivid impression.
He suffered from injury and some accused him of inconsistency. But I don’t care, I’ve got my fingers firmly stuck in my ears and I just don’t care, when he did play he was beautiful, striking, a player of true class and finesse. As a true right-winger he was, importantly, an exciting player to watch; when he strode forward he invariably triggered that heavenly rumbling sound of seats flapping up, fans rising in expectation. His first season also saw him amass an impressive goal tally. From the right-wing he boasted a record many strikers would envy, bagging 16 goals.
Amongst this haul came a derby day double against Liverpool, ensuring fan-favourite status, and a hat-trick away to Sheffield Wednesday. Indeed, the Hillsborough hat-trick is burnt vividly into my retina; being an Everton fan growing up in Sheffield, surrounded by Owls on a daily basis, this was the sweetest of scenarios. Overall, his explosive burst of pace, astute finishing and a deft crossing made him an enthralling winger and my personal favourite player; so much so that, with his extortionately long and expensive name adorning all my replica shirts, I was nick-named ‘kan’/’kanny’ at a young age and there remains a group of friends that still persist in calling by this moniker (it’s proving very difficult to shake off).
Upon leaving Everton, the Russian rocked-up at a variety of clubs; including Fiorentina, Rangers (for four years), Man City and Southampton. Although he showed glimpses of élan at Ibrox during a more lengthy stay, at all these clubs he was unable to fully deliver his best. Indeed, after his time at Old Trafford and the early stint at Everton, he perhaps never really lived-up to and utilised the quality he undoubtedly possessed (though he has been unfortunate with injury). Nevertheless he notably scored in the Manchester, Merseyside and Glasgow derbies, and for a brief time at Goodison he swept in, glided across the surface, stole my heart and swooped back out into the night…
So, take a look at the following video link, reminisce, get nostalgic about an old love, cry into a coffee cup and share your personal romance…
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