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Obscure Former Everton Player: Andy van der Meyde

Our new pandemic-time series opens with a look at a former player whose tabloid headlines to on-the-pitch contribution ratio was through the roof

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Everton v Bolton Wanderers - Goodison Park Photo by Peter Byrne - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Ed. note: I love to look back at old Everton rosters and find guys who make me go “OH MY GOD THAT’S RIGHT, HE WAS ON THAT TEAM. With no football currently being played, I thought I’d share my love of this pastime with you, the loyal RBM reader. If there are any players you’d like me to take a look at in future iterations of this series, let me know!

In truth, Andy van der Meyde might not be quite as obscure as some other players we’ll look at in the coming weeks (months?), but let’s be honest — if you remember that van der Meyde was an Everton player, it probably has nothing to do with what he did on the pitch during his four seasons with the club.

A Dutch winger, van der Meyde was once the next big thing to come out of the Ajax Amsterdam academy. He secured 17 caps with the Dutch national team after, ironically enough, future Everton manager Ronald Koeman made him a fixture in his early 2000s Ajax team.

That, however, would ultimately be where van der Meyde peaked.

Everton Acquisition

After several successful seasons with the Dutch giants, van der Meyde spent two indifferent seasons with Inter Milan. Injuries and middling form kept him from regular playing time, as he started just 39 matches in all competitions for Inter, totaling four goals and four assists for the club.

He moved from Inter to Everton ahead of the 2005-06 season for a fee of £2 million. In his first season with the club, he made only ten appearances. His season was limited due to injury and a general inability to adjust to the English game.

It never really got any better for him.

High Points with Everton

Despite only making 24 total appearances for Everton over the course of four seasons, van der Meyde, the Dutch winger was at the center of perhaps the single brightest moment of the David Moyes era — the Toffees’ 2009 victory over Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

In the replay of the fourth-round tie, which followed a 1-1 draw at Anfield, Everton and Liverpool ended regular time tied at 0-0, with van der Meyde on the bench (as per usual). Moyes inserted the Dutch winger at the start of the second period of extra time, along with the youngster Dan Gosling.

Miraculously, with three minutes to play before penalties, the pair combined to do this:

Andy’s cross fell kindly to the feet of Gosling, who eventually managed to push a shot toward goal. After deflection, it found the far corner of the net, and Everton defeated Liverpool amidst pandemonium at Goodison Park.

The Toffees ultimately went all the way to the finals, before losing to Chelsea. Fittingly, van der Meyde didn’t appear in the rest of the competition.

Player’s Departure

van der Meyde was allowed to leave after his contract expired in the summer of 2009. The Gosling assist wound up being his only notable contribution as an Everton player — he notched zero goals and just the single, solitary assist before departing the club.

He spent a brief period without a club, before signing with PSV Eindhoven in March 2010.

Why It Never Worked Out At Everton

Injuries played a big part in the Dutchman’s failure to make a significant impact at Everton, and that can certainly happen to any player. But, a series of off-field incidents certainly damaged his relationship with David Moyes, who never quite trusted the player.

In the years after his retirement, van der Meyde admitted that he had an alcohol problem for much of his playing career, impacting his time both at Inter Milan and Everton. The winger and his then-wife also gave birth to a daughter, Dolce, in 2007 — she had a series of health problems that kept her in the hospital for the first several months of her life. It was also discovered that van der Meyde was having an affair in approximately the same period — adding additional off-the-pitch spotlight.

It’s been widely reported that he developed insomnia and for a couple of years stole sleeping pills from the Everton club doctor’s office at Finch Farm. It’s unfair for me to speculate which of those factors played the biggest role in his struggles at Everton, but van der Meyde was repeatedly fined and relegated to the reserve team for failure to show up to training during this difficult period of his life.

Eventually he was released by Everton but continued to live on Merseyside, enjoying the partying lifestyle he had developed until by his own admission he hit rock bottom.

Where is He Now?

Andy retired in 2012, after which he was forced to reckon with his substance abuse and depression. Fortunately, after his playing days concluded, van der Meyde was able to get the help he needed and stabilize his life after football.

He gave this sobering interview in 2013 as part of a BBC series on footballers who struggle with their lives off the pitch. Oh, and he refereed the Lingerie World Cup in 2014, which is somehow a thing that existed. Thankfully, I’m happy to report everyone realized this event was a terrible idea, and was binned after its inaugural occurrence in 2014.

Book presentation - Andy van der Meyde
van der Meyde with friend and teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the launch of his autobiography ‘Geen genade’
Photo by VI Images via Getty Images

Today Andy spends most of his time as a media personality, running a show similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’, but it’s called ‘Andy In The Car!’ and he interviews professional football players, Dutch celebrities, artists and influencers in a weekly YouTube show.