Being shunted out on loan in the final throes of transfer deadline day is not a nice way to leave a club, but despite the unglamorous ending, Joseph Yobo will remain popular with the Everton fans.
The 29-year-old was David Moyes first signing back in 2002, with the Scot beginning in earnest the unenviable attempt to bring our average squad age down (a job instantly made easier by releasing Paul Gascoigne and David Ginola the same summer!).
But despite Yobo’s tender years he already had a wealth of experience and was fresh from keeping England at bay in the 2002 World Cup. He instantly added a bit of style and class to our previously lumbering back line.
He hit an early purple patch of form that November as Everton strung seven consecutive wins together- including a victory over Champions Arsenal - as they enjoyed one of their most successful campaigns in years, only missing out on Europe on the final day.
From there he quickly became a crowd favourite and one of our most consistent players. So much so that persistent rumours of a move to Arsenal sprung up – particularly in the dark summer of 2004, when the club had just finished 17th in the league, and in 2006 while contract negotiations were ongoing.
On both occasions Yobo showed loyalty to Moyes and the club by sticking with the Toffees, unusual for any player these days but especially for a non-Englishman.
With 259 appearances under his belt he is has played more games for Everton than any other foreign player and became the club’s first African captain in 2007. It is a shame then that he couldn’t stick around for 2 more years and earn himself a deserved testimonial.
But football being the way it is the arrivals of Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga has pushed Yobo down the pecking order. At 29 he needs to be playing regular football and although we could do with the squad depth, you can’t deny him the opportunity to play regularly in Turkey with Fenerbahce.
An interesting side note to his departure (as reported in the Liverpool Echo this week) was his reluctance to play in a Europa League tie at Benfica last season. His apparent head ‘injury’ cleared up three days later for a Nigeria game but only after a patched up Blues defence crumbled in Portugal, with the Toffees eventually losing 4-0.
Moyes is a manager who demands 100% commitment at all times and that apparent reluctance to put the club first was not forgotten by the Scot, who has only picked Yobo nine times since. The writing was perhaps on the wall even then.
Either way I expect Moyes will still wish Joey well in his future career as he represented the Blues with distinction over the past eight years and can look back at his time at Everton with pride.
Good luck Joey!