It seems strange to think now that Bryan Oviedo began this season as something of an unknown quantity.
Signed by David Moyes on the final day of the 2012 summer transfer window, the Costa Rican made just three starts in his first season at Goodison Park, hampered by the astounding form of Leighton Baines at left back, and mostly deployed as a winger, if at all. Under Roberto Martinez too, things seemed unlikely to change, with Baines playing consistently well and Oviedo confined to the bench through the opening months of the campaign.
However that was to change when, in November's Merseyside derby, Baines sustained a broken toe that would sideline him for several weeks. Evertonians were understandably distressed at the loss of their talismanic full back ahead of a crucial run of fixtures, but they needn't have worried.
Oviedo came into the side for the home match against Stoke City and promptly set about filling Baines' boots in a more brilliant fashion than anyone had dared hope. A blur of dynamism and invention on the left, he fired in the Toffees' third goal with a rifled right-foot finish from outside the penalty area, before teeing up Romelu Lukaku for a fourth with a perfectly weighted cross.
Chants of ‘Oviedo Baby' were to become a staple from then on, but the full back's finest moment was yet to come. In the next game the Blues travelled to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, where Oviedo put in a sterling defensive performance (a less heralded, but just as impressive aspect of his game) before scoring the now-iconic winner with minutes to go to secure Everton's first win at the ground in over 20 years. A string of excellent performances would follow, but even if Oviedo never played another game, one senses that his cult status would have already been cemented.
It's one of the biggest disappointments of the last season that the second defining moment of Oviedo's Everton career was his horrific injury against Stevenage in the FA Cup. Fortunately, from the team's perspective, the Costa Rican's leg break coincided with Baines' return to action, but there remained a sense of understandable dismay around the club nonetheless.
Despite a hugely encouraging recovery, Oviedo's injury would see him miss the remainder of the season, as well as Costa Rica's (still ongoing) World Cup campaign. But with his role in the team now decidedly more assured than it was 12 months ago, and with the added challenge of European football on the horizon, Evertonians can look forward to seeing much more of the tenacious left back come August.
All together now: OV-I-EDO BABY...