Then there is the frustration he [James Beattie] still feels over ‘a year in the wilderness’ and the sudden exit that followed an all-too-brief exchange with manager David Moyes.
It occurred in the lobby of the Manhattan Beach Hotel in Los Angeles during Everton’s pre-season tour of America in 2007.
Beattie recalls: ‘He said he thought it was about time I moved on. I told him I wasn’t going anywhere. He said, “We’ll see”, and that was it. It was a big blow but it’s all about how you come back, isn’t it?’
Beattie’s friends believe Moyes began to have doubts about his record £6million signing as early as the striker’s fifth League game for the club when he was shown the only red card of his career — and served his only suspension — for butting the then Chelsea defender William Gallas.
Could they be right?
‘Probably,’ says Beattie, ruefully. ‘I just think it started a snowball effect in his head. I really did question myself when I left but, with what’s happened since, I know it wasn’t me. I’ve sorted it out in my own head that it wasn’t my fault.’
He was Everton’s top scorer in his first full season before Moyes broke the club’s transfer record again, paying £8.6m to sign Andy Johnson as the spearhead for his favoured 4-5-1 formation and banishing Beattie to the bench.
He dropped down to the Championship where he continued to score regularly for Sheffield United and returns to Goodison
for the first time today with five goals in seven games as a Stoke player — and no regrets.
‘Leaving was hard to take but I’ll say this: there has never been a second that I didn’t think I was a Premier League
footballer,’ insists Beattie, 31.
‘For the first 18 months I absolutely loved it at Everton. I made some really good friends who I’m still in touch with now, not just the players but people around the club and I still speak to Bill Kenwright on a regular basis.
‘We’ve got quite a special relationship. I phone him for advice or just to see how he’s doing. I think he’s a top guy and he wanted me to be the next superstar at Everton,
even though it didn’t quite work out.
‘I was forced into a bit of a corner and I had a decision to make. Someone of the stature of Bryan Robson coming round to my house, talking to me as a person, treating me with respect and saying he wanted me to play for Sheffield United was nice to hear having spent 12 months in the wilderness.
‘I didn’t really want to go. I wanted to stay and prove myself like I’ve done several times in my career. It was a massive decision and I spoke to a lot of people in football. I’ve since had the same people congratulate me on the way I’ve come back because a lot of players drop out of the top flight and you never see them again.’