How weird is that? It’s been a drunken twilight zone of a week already. Naked kopites masturbating in Madrid. Red families attacking each other with eye gouging, phlegm flecked abuse, during their own trophy parade. Our tower, the Everton lock up, sprayed with red sixes. Cleaned up. Then vandalised again. And now this. Phil Jagielka isn’t an Everton player. That might be the weirdest news of the lot.
When David Moyes bought him for four million pounds (!!) in 1997 we were signing a Swiss Army knife. A player who could play multiple defensive positions, and at a pinch, even goalie. Jags was so slick between the sticks that Neil Warnock had the luxury of not having to name a reserve goalkeeper on the bench.
What we got was far more than that. Solid, fast,
dependable, and talented – don’t you dare forget *talented* because as a
defender he was at the top of his profession – Jagielka has been a totem for us
since he joined.
The partnership he forged with Joleon Lescott was arguably
the best in the Premier League and Tim Howard’s praise for his teammate after a
particularly heroic display against QPR in 2012 describes him perfectly:
“Jags was immense. He’s grown and grown and looks like he’ll
cement himself in the England team playing like that.
“He’s been doing that for us for years. He’s a player who does
his own job and at the risk of making a mistake he’ll try and cover for
everyone else on the field too. He’s a leader, he’s solid, and he was an animal
“It was a classic centre-half performance – he was everywhere.
It was just one of those nights you knew he wasn’t going to get beaten. He’s
been a rock for us for a long time and we need him to have the momentum going
into the derby.”
Jags turned in countless performances for us like the one mentioned above. He stood up and took the penalty that got us to the FA Cup final, and made my dad cry in the process. He dipped his boots in gunpowder for that cracker against Liverpool – stealing a draw at Anfield from the gaping jaws of defeat with a ridiculous half volley from miles out, and sank a thousand kopite hearts in the process…
Those things should be remembered, let’s promise we won’t forget.
There’s always lots of chatter about what makes a “legend.”
For me, a legend is someone that goes down in the history of the club, someone
who is beloved beyond the fanbase that saw him, someone who becomes part of our
lore. I’ll be telling my kids about Jags…
As Everton has hurtled through my life like a
rollercoaster, Jags has been a great part of it. He wasn’t always afforded the
chance to grow old gracefully at Everton, but he never hid.
Even now, I wouldn’t swap our blue captain for an ocean of
Goodbye Jags, sorry for never pronouncing your name right.