Soccer

Yakubu names 4 players who were leaders in Everton dressing room

Yakubu believes he hit his "peak" at Everton, playing in a team "full of leaders".

The former Nigeria international spent three-and-a-half seasons at Goodison Park, where he became a favourite among fans after signing for David Moyes’ side in August 2007.

He scored 21 goals in his first season, helping the team to a fifth-place finish, but a serious Achilles tendon injury suffered in November 2008 curtailed his momemtum.

When he returned 11 months later, after a gruelling rehabilitation regime, he struggled to nail down a regular starting place and eventually left for Blackburn in 2011.

But despite his injury woes, he looks back on his time at Everton fondly, claiming he played the best football of his career in his debut season on Merseyside.

Giving an insight into the dressing room, he said it was brimming with big characters.

He said: “When I left Middlesbrough, I scored 21 goals in my first season at Everton, so I was really looking forward to the next season, but then I got injured.

“I didn’t want to leave, but I didn’t want to play just five or ten minutes coming off the bench. I needed to play every week after missing every game for 11 months.

“Before I got injured, that was the best – my peak. I was confident and expected to score every time I played. I felt very comfortable doing my job.

“We had a great team, full of leaders. There were so many leaders – Jags (Phil Jagielka), Joseph Yobo, Leon Osman, Tim Cahill. Wherever you looked, there were leaders. Everyone was fighting for each other every game.”


Yakubu became Everton’s record signing when Moyes paid £11.25million for his services.

Now 35, he is enjoying retirement and still watches the Toffees’ matches.

Praising the team’s style under new manager Marco Silva, he said he was a fan of Brazil international Richarlison, a £44million summer signing from Silva’s former club Watford.

“They’re doing really well," he said. "The football is really good and the players are getting used to the ideas. You have to give them credit. At the moment they are doing well.

“Richarlison is doing really well. He has been the one scoring goals, so he deserves the credit. It’s not easy coming from Watford to Everton, a really big club.

“You need to have patience because sometimes it can take a player one or two months to settle, but others it can take six months or even a year.

“Richarlison is doing really well straight away and that is good for him and the fans.”

Yakubu also had some wisdom for Richarlision and his fellow strikers, Cenk Tosun, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse.

He said: “Everton are a big club, so if they spend a lot of money on a striker, they expect goals – that is the job of the player."

“There is pressure to score, and sometimes you can go three or four games with no goals, but you have to keep doing what you’re doing, believing you will score.

“Scoring in the Premier League is difficult because it’s one of the best leagues in the world, so you need to be patient.”

Yakubu first played in England for Portsmouth, having joined from Israeli side Maccabi Haifa.

As well as playing for Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn, he also had spells at Leicester, Reading and Coventry.

  • Kenyan Premier League Champions Gor Mahia will make history on November 6 as the first African club to play a Premier League club in the UK when they play Everton for the SportPesa trophy. Tickets are available now at tickets.evertonfc.com .

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