If you’ve become an Everton fan within the last ten years (like myself), there have been perhaps but two constants: Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka. The two defenders have been rocks at the back for the Blues, and this week are celebrating a decade at Goodison Park.
Jagielka, 35, joined Everton on July 4, 2007 from Sheffield United. “Jags” became captain of the club in 2013, and has represented the Blues superbly both on and off the pitch.
Jagielka states that his most difficult opponent over the years has been Luis Suarez during the Uruguayan’s tenure at Liverpool, while his favorite goal for the club was, of course, the famed screamer at Anfield.
Baines, 32, also signed for the Toffees in July 2007, from Wigan Athletic. He has been a mainstay down Everton’s left side ever since, and the Englishman’s longevity is truly impressive. The fullback holds the Premier League record for most assists by a defender, and remains Everton’s preferred choice at his position.
When asked about his favorite moment at the club, Baines simply stated it was the day he signed.
I could tell my family and friends I was an Everton player.
Both players will receive deserved testimonial matches in time. In the meantime, some of their contemporaries have opened up on the two stalwarts. Seamus Coleman, equally important to Everton over the years, spoke of his admiration for Baines.
Early on, there were quite a few full-backs at Everton. Phil [Neville] was here, Tony Hibbert as well - someone I really looked up to and really wanted to learn from - and Bainesy on the other side.
He got in the PFA team of the season twice and has now got the most assists in the Premier League for a defender, so he was someone I probably tried to watch and learn from the most.
We both played in similar positions and that relationship he had with Steven Pienaar was probably the best left-hand side in the league. And when I say probably, I’m sure of it.
The Irishman, 28, didn’t stop there - Coleman also had great things to say about his captain.
He’s a good captain. I think there’s all different types of captains and Jags is there when you need to bounce stuff off him but he’s also one of those players where I remember we were going through a sticky spell a couple years ago and we played QPR away and he was immense in the game. So, for me, he leads by performances.
There’s been games where we’ve been getting battered and he’s heading balls, putting in last-ditch tackles, putting his body on the line and getting man of the match constantly, so I think he’s a captain that leads by the way he plays on a Saturday, and I often say that to him.
Being a captain, some people think it’s all about shouting, balling and giving it out to people, which most captains are capable of, as is Jags.
But the thing I’ve learnt from him most is, when you’ve got the armband on, lead by your performances and do your talking on the pitch as best you can.
Any successes that Ronald Koeman has had so far at Everton can be partially credited to the consistency and professionalism of Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka. The Dutch manager lauded both players’ commitment to the crest.
Ten years is a long time, they have been really key players in the past… and will be in the future of Everton.
Phil is the captain and Leighton is the second captain. They live for Everton and they play for Everton with all their heart. That is really important for the Club.
As both players turn towards the home stretch of their careers, these things are certain - no one has been more committed to Everton recently than Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, and few will be more important to turning this season around. Thanks for everything, guys.