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Duncan Ferguson awarded Everton testimonial

Former striker could pull on the famous blue shirt one more time

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Everton have confirmed that Duncan Ferguson is to be awarded a testimonial against Villarreal at Goodison ahead of the new season.

The Toffees will play the La Liga side at Goodison Park on Sunday August 2, just 24 hours after another scheduled friendly away at Leeds United and a week before the start of the new season.

The big man needs little introduction to most Evertonians but those not familiar with Ferguson he was a menacing presence in Everton's forward line during the late 90s and early 2000s, his stay at Goodison Park on briefly interrupted by a spell at Newcastle between 1999 and 2000.

In all he played played 273 times for Everton over two spells, scoring 72 goals, and was a member of the squad that the FA Cup in 1995. He also had a handy habit of saving his best performances - and goals - for games against Man Utd and Liverpool.

In 1995 he infamously served 44 days of a three-month prison sentence handed down for head-butting Raith Rovers defender John McStay while playing for Glasgow Rangers the previous year.

Ferguson is still the only player to be jailed for an off-field offence, something that crystallised his reputation as one of the game's hardmen as well as confirming his hero status among the Everton supporters.

His all-action, passionate approach to the game and obvious love for the club means he holds a special place in the hearts of the supporters - as a kid growing up in that era he was my absolute hero.

Many question his status as a "legend" given his performances were often patchy and hindered by injury and suspension. However, there is no question that he is an Everton icon who carried the team through one of the most difficult periods in its recent history.

The presence of Villarreal will evoke memories of the infamous Champions League qualifier in 2005 when Everton were denied an equalising goal by a controversial decision by referee Pierluigi Collina.

Collina - who had been brought out of retirement to take charge of the game - at the time claimed there had been a foul by Ferguson before the Scot headed the ball home but replays showed otherwise. He later claimed it was Marcus Bent who had committed the offence, even though replays again proved that to be false.

In later interviews Collina, who re-retired straight after the game, has confessed he was not sure why he gave the decision, further deepening the feeling of injustice among the Everton fans.

Ferguson retired from playing in 2006 and is now a member of the club's coaching staff. There is a chance though he may pull on the royal blue jersey one last time.

Speaking of his testimonial, Ferguson said:

"It's humbling to think that the Club think of me so highly," . "I love this football club, I love being here every day and I cannot wait to see the fans at Goodison Park on 2 August."

Chairman Bill Kenwright added:

"From the moment Duncan agreed, I felt there was one European club in particular the fans would love to see us take on again. Everton loves Duncan Ferguson and Duncan Ferguson loves Everton. I have said before that he is one of the biggest ever Evertonians not to be born on Merseyside."

If you want to learn more about Everton's opponents in Ferguson's testimonial then check out SBNations's excellent Villarreal blog: Villarreal USA