Everton’s Classic XI

Every club has its heroes. But equally, there are players who you might have forgotten about. These are the players that we love at Forgot About Him, and this feature is dedicated to them. We’re taking a trip to the blue side of Merseyside in this instalment.

One of just seven clubs to have played in every Premier League campaign, Everton have now spent 57 consecutive seasons in the top-flight of English football. After finishing in the top half just twice in their first 12 campaigns and missing out on relegation by the skin of their teeth on more than one occasion, the Toffees’ fortunes changed significantly in the 21st century, as David Moyes took the reigns in 2002. Moyes has transformed the club into a Europe-chasing outfit, and finished as high as fourth in 2005. Complied of players signed by Moyes, and a couple of his predecessors, this is Everton’s classic XI.

For all the good he has brought to Merseyside, current Everton boss David Moyes is also responsible for the signing of a few rather classic names. Photo: Jason Gulledge via Flickr

GK: Jason Kearton

Signed as cover for Neville Southall in 1988, the then-nineteen year old Kearton had been playing for Brisbane Lions in his native Australia. In eight years at Goodison Park, Kearton made only three appearances for the first team, instead spending much of his time on loan in the lower divisions. Dario Gradi tempted Kearton to Crewe in 1996 and the Australian went on to play almost 200 matches for Cheshire side, including this breathtaking performance at Ewood Park in March 2000. He left Britain in 2001 to return Down Under to finish his career. He now runs his own coaching company, Top Shelf Goalkeeping, in Brisbane.

RB: Alec Cleland

Having played his entire career in Scotland up until 1998, Cleland was well-known to Walter Smith, who brought the right back south of the border after arriving at the club from Rangers. Seen as a steady right back during his spells at Dundee United and under Smith at Ibrox, Cleland was unfortunate not to further that reputation in the Premier League as injury blighted his chances of establishing a hold on the right side of defence. After just 21 league starts in four years, Cleland was forced to retire from the game in 2002 after being released by the club.

CB: Li Weifeng

Li’s transfer to Everton came about as a result of the club’s sponsorship deal with Chinese telecommunications company Kejian. As part of the contract, the company was entitled to send one Chinese player to the Toffees for the 2002-03 season – and they chose Li. However he couldn’t break into David Moyes’ team and struggled to settle in England, meaning he lasted just half of the season before returning to China with Shenzen Jianlibao. Li has though managed to forge a decent career in Asia – despite picking up a bad boy reputation after receiving six red cards in 14 months prior to the 2006 World Cup.

CB: Matteo Ferrari

Capped 11 times by Italy between 2002 and 2004, it looked like Moyes’ loan swoop for Ferrari in 2005 could prove to be a masterstroke. The defender had been highly valued as a youngster at Inter Milan and as a vital squad member at Parma. Despite disappointing at Roma, it was hoped Ferrari would thrive at Champions League-competing Everton. That was not the case though, and he played just eight times during the season, with Everton not exercising their option to sign him permanently. He returned to Roma and became the first choice centre back with Phillipe Mexes as Roma finished second in Serie A and won the Coppa Italia. Ferrari now plays in Turkey with Beskitas, who could only finish 5th in the Turkish Super Lig this season.

LB: Alessandro Pistone

Pistone’s major break in professional football came in 1996 when an Inter Milan side, led by Roy Hodgson, was attracted by the defender. After making 45 appearances in his first season at the San Siro, reaching a UEFA Cup final in the process, he signed for Kenny Dalglish’s Newcastle United for £4.5million. His three years at St James’ Park were eventful – he was a regular under Dalglish, ignored by Ruud Gullit and again played under Bobby Robson. However Robson did sell Pistone to the Toffees in 2000, and he went on to play at Goodison Park for seven seasons – though he made only 116 appearances as injuries plagued him. He concluded his career after a short spell in Belgium and is now a keen poker player.

RM: Preki

Predrag Radosavljevic, more commonly known as Preki, was a prolific goalscorer in the now-defunct Major Indoor Soccer League in America, scoring 332 goals in 338 games and attracting the attention of then-Everton boss Howard Kendall, who subsequently shelled out £100,000 for his services in preparation for the newly-established Premier League. After failing to replicate his indoor form in two seasons playing the outdoor version of the game with Everton, though, he went back to the MISL, where he continued to bang in the goals. By this time a naturalised US citizen, the 33-year-old Preki played for the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS’ inaugural season, and even made his debut for the US national team – going on to earn 28 caps. A National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee in 2010, Preki has since gone on to manage Chivas USA and, more recently, Toronto FC.

CM: Alex Nyarko

Walter Smith signed combative midfielder Nyarko for £4.5million in 2000, likening him to Patrick Vieira. The Ghanaian, who had already plied his trade in Ghana, Romania, Switzerland, Germany and France, appeared 22 times in the Premier League in his debut season in England, before sensationally announcing his retirement in April 2001, after an Everton fan had come on the pitch and offered him his own shirt, indicating Nyarko wasn’t worthy of wearing the Toffees’ colours. In reality, Nyarko didn’t retire, but was instead sent on season-long loans, first to Monaco, then PSG, before being released in  2004. After yet more controversy whilst at IK Start of Norway, he retired in 2007 following a spell at Swiss side Yverdon-Sport FC.

CM: Li Tie

The second Chinese player to make the squad, Li Tie, like compatriot Li Weifeng, also signed for Everton as part of the Kejian sponsorship deal, and made 33 appearances in all competitions in the 2002/03 season for the club. He signed permanently in 2003, but notched up just seven further appearances in three years due to injuries, and after a spell at Sheffield United, he returned to China to play for United’s Chinese side, Chengdu Blades FC in 2008, before signing for current club Liaoning Whowin a year later. A veteran of 89 caps over 15 years playing for the national side, Li played a pivotal role in China’s first and, to date, only World Cup appearance in 2002.

LM: Rodrigo Juliano

Described as the ‘Brazilian Beckham’, Rodrigo Juliano – or Rodrigol as was printed on his shirt – signed for Everton on loan from Botafogo in 2002/03. Mere weeks into his career on Merseyside, though, he suffered a serious knee injury in training, causing him to miss over five months of the campaign, and ultimately limiting him to just four appearances in a blue shirt that season. Despite David Moyes having the option to buy Rodrigo, the winger returned to his homeland, where he subsequently went on to play for seven clubs in four years, making just a handful of appearances for each, before retiring, aged 32, in 2008.

ST: Joe-Max Moore

The tenth most-capped player in American football history, Moore spent three years at Everton from 1999 to 2002, and his arrival initially proved to be a stroke of genius by Walter Smith, as he notched up five goals in his first five games. However, his prolificness soon decreased, and he finished the 1999/2000 season with eight goals to his name, and added just a further two as he played a bit-part role over the next three seasons. After winning his 100th cap for USA at the 2002 World Cup, he returned to the MLS to play for former club New England Revolution, before retiring from the game in 2004.

ST: Mickael Madar

After recovering from a broken leg suffered whilst at Spanish side Deportivo, Frenchman Madar was brought to Merseyside by Howard Kendall in December 2007. Despite a decent enough scoring record in the French Ligue 1 in the early 90s – a record which earned him a place in France’s Euro 96 squad – a combination of lack of fitness and falling out of favour meant he lasted just a year in England, scoring six times in 20 appearances for Everton. He returned to France to play for PSG in 1999 and finished his career in 2002 after a season with US Creteil.

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