For this week's guest blog over at Everton:TheOffside I have paid tribute to the one and only Tony Hibbert. A player who will never win any awards for style and grace; but would be a millionaire if he was given a pound every time people made patronising statements about him being 'a reliable professional' - And I admit I am as guilty as anyone.
Anyway Hibbert made his Everton debut 10 years ago, a fine achievement for a modern day player. So to mark the occasion here is the intro to my tribute, with the rest - as ever - over at the Offside.
Thursday 31st March 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of Tony Hibbert’s debut for Everton( a 2-0 win away at West Ham stats fans). A significant milestone I’m sure you will agree, but one that will largely go unnoticed by the rest of the footballing World.
Well because Hibbert’s limitations as a footballer are there for all to see – he is not Roberto Carlos or Cafu, a right-footed Leighton Baines or even as good at attacking as Phil Neville. But the Ryan Giggs comparison in the headline isn’t totally inaccurate either.
After all to stick with the same side for a decade, despite not always being a regular, says something about his attitude, professionalism and loyalty – a word not often used when talking about modern day ‘where-my-next-signing-on-fee-coming-from’ footballers.
Believe it or not I actually thought attacking was one of Hibbert’s strengths when he first broke into the team. Though back then we did have the likes of David Unsworth, Alessandro Pistone and Steve Watson in the full-back positions – hardly what you would call rapid.
So Hibbo’s youthful enthusiasm was a refreshing change and he symbolised the fresh start Moyes was looking to make with the club, dispensing the aging side we had under Walter Smith. Hibbert was well and truly in Wayne Rooney’s shadow, though I suspect that is just the way he likes it