Everton’s best starting XI of all time allows us to choose from a number of names. This is our XI of the Merseyside club’s best players.
Everton’s best starting XI of all time
(GK) Neville Southall
Undisputedly, the finest man to ever don the goalkeeper’s jersey for Everton, Neville Southall’s career with the club spanned a staggering 17 years, in which he won two league titles, two FA Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Stylistically, the Welshman was ahead of his time. Not only was he superb at shot-stopping, but Southall was renowned for being sharp off his line, commanding his penalty area and getting Everton on their way with sharp distribution. Southall was an assuring influence at the base of the Toffees’ greatest ever team throughout the 1980s.
At his best, there was no goalkeeper in world football who measured up to the same standards.
(RB) Gary Stevens
Stationed on the right of the defense, Gary Stevens was a tremendously rounded fullback. Howard Kendall drafted him into his side from the Everton academy set-up, and he was an uncompromising foil for Trevor Steven in front of him and the central defensive partnership of Derek Mountfield and Kevin Ratcliffe.
Making his first appearance for the Toffees as a 19-year-old, Stevens came to symbolize the vibrant young side which was so successful throughout the 1980s. When he left for Rangers in 1988, the right back did so having helped Everton to two league titles, one FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
(CB) Kevin Ratcliffe
Another defender who broke onto the scene under Kendall was Ratcliffe, who went on to captain Everton during this period of remarkable success.
The Welshman was just 19 when he made his debut for the Toffees, at Old Trafford no less, before eventually cementing his spot in Kendall’s XI a couple of years later. Immediately it was obvious Ratcliffe was an ideal figurehead for this resurgent Toffees team, and at 23, he was named skipper by the manager in what was a bold move.
It was one of many masterstrokes from Kendall. Ratcliffe was a player who led by example at the back, never shirking a physical battle, dominating in the air and showcasing the cerebral qualities needed to become one of the finest defenders in Europe.
(CB) Brian Labone
“Remember lads,” famously said the late Brian Labone, “one Evertonian is worth 20 Liverpudlians.”
It’s a line like that would always help a player etch his place in Everton folklore, but Labone, who spent his entire playing career at Goodison Park, was also a giant on the field for the Toffees. The locally-born center back was a thoroughbred leader, helping the Toffees to two league titles and the 1966 FA Cup.
Revered as a true gentleman, Labone is fondly remembered by all who were lucky enough to have met him and seen him play. Sadly in 2006, aged 66, he collapsed and died suddenly. “He will always be known as the captain of Everton,” said Ratcliffe in tribute.
(LB) Ray Wilson
Ray Wilson is best remembered for his showing on the left of England’s defense in the final of the 1966 World Cup. But for those on Merseyside, it’s his performances in a blue shirt which are often recounted most fondly.
Wilson helped Everton to the FA Cup in 1966, and although he eventually left the Toffees for Oldham before Harry Catterick’s side romped to the league title, the influence he had at the back was vital to the progression this side made during that time.
(RM) Trevor Steven
Another member of the Everton team which dominated the 1980s, Steven thrilled the Goodison Park faithful with his brash brand of wing wizardry. He occupies the right flank on Everton’s best starting XI of all time.
The man affectionately known as “Tricky Trev” by the Everton supporters struck a wonderful understanding with Stevens on the right flank. The likes of Graeme Sharp thrived off Steven’s tremendous delivery from wide positions, and opposition defenders were at a loss on how to better nullify his influence.
Steven was a man who chipped in with big goals, too, most notably one in the famous European Cup Winners’ Cup semifinal against Bayern Munich, a night still remembered as the most atmospheric in Everton’s time at Goodison Park.
(CM) Alan Ball
“Who’s the greatest of them all?” sung the Everton faithful on matchdays between 1966 and 1971. “Little curly Alan Ball!”
After winning the World Cup with England as a Blackpool player in the summer of 1966, Ball came to Everton with a big reputation and a massive price tag: £112,000. But the midfielder lived up to the billing during five exceptional years with the Toffees, forging a magnificent midfield threesome alongside Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey.
Ball was a tremendously industrious player, technically and donning his iconic white boots, a beacon of originality at the time, too. Sadly, Ball passed away in 2007, but having won the World Cup, plus a league title and an FA Cup with Everton, he’ll always be an immortal figure in English soccer history.
(CM) Peter Reid
Players such as Steven, Sharp and Kevin Sheedy made the Everton team of the 1980s one of the most entertaining in English history. But Peter Reid’s influence, while not as aesthetic, was just as important. Therefore, he cracks Everton’s best starting XI of all time.
Reid was another player plucked from obscurity by Kendall and turned into a major force at the very top level. While Ratcliffe was the captain of this remarkable side, the midfield firebrand was the general on the field, getting about the pitch with unshakeable energy, barking orders at teammates and driving Everton forward.
Reid was the era’s equivalent of Roy Keane, and the scouser is always an entertaining listen when talk turns to the Toffees.
(LM) Kevin Sheedy
It’s not often Everton and Liverpool conduct transfer business between each other, but the Toffees clearly saw something in Sheedy when shelling out £100,000 for him from their neighbors in 1982. The decision to let the left winger leave the club would prove to be a regrettable one for the Anfield outfit.
Sheedy went on to become the finest left-sided player Everton have ever had. On the flank, the winger was an immaculate crosser of the ball, a wonderful technician and a player who had a dead-eye when it came to set pieces, famously scoring a belter at Anfield before letting the Liverpool supporters know exactly what he thought of them with a two-fingered salute.
Sheedy’s Everton career spanned a lengthy 10 years, and his howitzer of a left foot is recounted with great fondness by those supporters who had the pleasure of watching him.
(ST) Graeme Sharp
In a category where Everton are not short of iconic players, Sharp takes the first spot at the point of the attack on Everton’s best starting XI of all time.
The rumbustious center forward was a constant throughout the most glorious spell in Everton’s history, excelling alongside the likes of Andy Gray and Gary Lineker. Sharp wasn’t just a goalscorer, netting 150 in total during his Everton career, but he was a rounded center forward, capable of roughing up defenders, running in behind and holding the ball up.
The Scottish international scored 30 goals in two consecutive seasons between 1984 and 1986, a measure of his pedigree at the time. His opener in the 1984 FA Cup final and the equalizer in the 1985 clash with Bayern helped Everton to two of the most significant achievements in the club’s history.
(ST) Dixie Dean
Undeniably, the finest footballer to have ever donned the royal blue jersey, the achievements of Dixie Dean remain unchallenged almost 90 years on from his playing days.
The statue of the Birkenhead-born striker outside Goodison Park, the only player to be bestowed with such an honor, is an indication of just how high a regard Evertonians hold the forward. Dean famously netted 60 goals for Everton in the 1927-28 season, a remarkable haul which inspired the team to the league title and has yet to be bettered; he also netted in the 1933 FA Cup Final, which Everton won.
Renowned for his staggering aerial ability, despite fracturing his skull in a motorcycle accident, and forensic finishing, Dean scored a whopping 383 goals in 433 appearances for the Toffees. It’s a tally which makes him one of the most prolific goalscorers ever produced by the English game, as well as Everton’s best player of all-time.
Read a full profile of Dean here.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball.
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