Neville Southall: Everton’s most loved Toffee

Joe Parker
Joe Parker
Joe Parker
Contributor

Making over 750 appearances in an Everton shirt and an icon of their trophy-laden 1980s; Southall was an absolute mammoth in goal and had a moustache some can only dream of. He sits perched as the ultimate icon for the blue half of Merseyside. 

18 years of service for Everton in the 80s and 90s meant Southall was in a prime place to be a fan favourite. But you don’t spend that many years at a club without being instrumental to their successes. Longevity combined with a unique talent, merging to make Southall the most treasured Toffee of all.

Two First Division titles, two FA cups and a European Cup Winners Cup would see Evertonians longing for a keeper of Southall’s brilliance and stature way into the new millennia.

1985 would long go down in the history books as Everton’s most successful year and no one was more important in these victories than Southall. 18 games after December 22nd, would see Southall only concede nine goals a a run which would see Everton clinch their first title since 1970.

“When you’ve got a keeper like that in your team you can gain an extra fourteen points”.

Kevin Ratcliffe – Everton Captain.

 

The run of outstanding performances in Everton’s all-conquering season would only be repeated throughout Southall’s tenure. The following season in fact, his injury would dramatically hinder Everton’s chances at winning back to back league titles.

“I’m still convinced that if Southall had stayed fit until the end of the season, Everton would have won the double”

Jamie Carragher

Keepers can often fly under the radar in favour of outfield players; the inherent prejudice against them comes from the fact that everyone dreams of scoring goals, not saving them. Southall, though, reminded the beautiful game just how important a shot-stopper is for success.

Big Nev to his contemporaries, both Everton fans and players recognised the cruciality of the role he played. As Everton sank back into mediocrity in the 90’s, Southall proved impervious in goal. As resolute and impassible as ever, he reminded fans of their previous greatness.

An FA Cup Final in 1995 that Everton would ultimately win, would see Southall denying Ferguson’s United on several occasions. A stunning double save from Ryan Giggs typifying his and his teammates’ resolve.

Wales most capped player, just eight shy of a hundred, Southall was – and still is – adored by Everton fans. This adoration is only compounded by his personal honours.

The last ‘keeper to win the FWA Footballer of the Year, a four-time PFA Team of the Year member and No.1 on Everton’s hero list; Southall’s career is one of dominance and loyalty.

Hence why he sits alone at the top as the ultimate cult hero for Evertonians; permanent reminder of their glory years and an often impassible object between the sticks.