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60 Greatest Everton Players: #52. Phil Jagielka
by Ed Bottomley

“He cares for this club like no-one else.” – Roberto Martinez 

He caught the eye of Arsene Wenger, pissed off Neil Warnock, was Wayne Rooney’s boozy wing-man, has played over 250 times for us and is the only Everton player to captain England

When David Moyes bought him for four million in 1997 we were signing a Swiss Army knife. A player who could play multiple defensive positions, and at a pinch, even goalie. In fact, Jags was so accomplished between the sticks that Neil Warnock had the luxury of not having to name a reserve goalkeeper on the bench. 

What we got was even more than that: solid, fast, dependable, Jagielka has been fantastic 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 against QPR.

“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.”

Countless performances like the one mentioned above, solidity, leadership, and that cracker against Liverpool – stealing a draw at Anfield from the gaping jaws of defeat with a ridiculous half volley from miles out… When Phil Jagielka does eventually leave Everton, and the writing seems to be on the wall, he should be remembered for all of these things. Let’s promise we won’t forget him.

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60

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