In a sensational interview with the Daily Mail, former Everton defender Tony Hibbert claims that the club has kicked him to the curb with no support whatsoever as he recovers from his latest injury.
Hibbert was one of three players whose contracts were not extended when their terms expired on June 30th, along with fellow long-time players Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar.
The writer Joe Bernstein states that the 35-year-old player did not know that they would be let go and only found out through family members who saw it on the club’s official website.
“I was in Formby with my dad and brother when my wife Samantha rang to say she’d been getting text messages from friends that I wasn’t being retained. It was on the website.
“I couldn’t believe it so I rang a friend at the club to check. They said, “Tony, I honestly don’t know why nobody has spoken to you”. I contacted Leon and he was in exactly the same boat.
“I won’t tell a lie, I was really hurt. Surely someone at the club should’ve realised it wasn’t right. I’d rather have been told at any point during the season there wouldn’t be a contract so I’d have a chance to plan my future and say a proper farewell. No player deserves that whether they’ve been at a club for five minutes or 25 years.
“In what other job would someone be let go or fired without a senior manager talking and explaining what was happening? I never got that and I honestly don’t know why. I didn’t get the chance to properly say goodbye to the fans.”
Hibbert went on to say that he thought things had taken a turn for the worse at the club, where he joined when he was 10, with a total of 328 appearances under managers Walter Smith, David Moyes and Roberto Martinez. Hibbo, as he is popularly known amongst the fans, was the second longest player serving one club after John Terry.
“Every contract I had at Everton, I never questioned it or demanded more money. I have never kicked up a storm even as a kid. But since David Moyes left (in 2013), I have noticed the club hasn’t got the same feeling.
“The People’s Club, it’s no longer that. It’s a ruthless, horrible business and a lot of good people have gone. I understand a new manager wants to work a different way but it is a dog-eat-dog culture inside the club now. People are only looking out for themselves.”
He added -
“Bill (Kenwright) used to text me good-luck messages as a player. But I’ve not heard from him now.
“It’s hard to blame only him because of his own issues but you’d like to think there are other people who know how to do the right things.”
The right back is recovering from an operation after he suffered damaged ankle ligaments towards the end of last season. While Everton have let the player continue his rehabilitation work at the Finch Farm training facility, he can only work out in the afternoons after the first team is done with training, and is forced to change in the academy locker rooms.
“It’s hard for me to go in. It’s a horrible feeling. I feel embarrassed. Everything from the club feels like a new smack in the face. My wife is even angrier at how I’ve been treated.”
This is pretty embarrassing and shameful for Everton to be treating a club legend in this manner.