In search of Tony Hibbert – the Everton enigma who wants to be left alone

Wednesday, 2 February, 2022 24comments  |  Jump to last
Sam Carroll of the Liverpool Echo set out in 2020 to interview former Everton defender Tony Hibbert and this is what happened

» Read the full article at Liverpool Echo

Reader Comments (24)

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Gerry Quinn
1 Posted 03/02/2022 at 04:24:20
An interesting article about Hibbo who craves the peaceful life – and was treated quite badly by Everton by the looks of it...
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 03/02/2022 at 04:48:35
Some folks are just like that. Uncomfortable in the public eye and happy to be away from it. You have to respect that.
Ajay Gopal
3 Posted 03/02/2022 at 09:47:33
A devious plan by Tony Hibbert as he prepares to go to war against Ukraine.
Gerry Morrison
4 Posted 04/02/2022 at 03:31:19
I wish we had half-a-dozen players like Tony Hibbert in our team today.
Don Alexander
5 Posted 04/02/2022 at 04:38:30
Er, why this article? It's as mundane as Hibbert was.
Terence Leong
6 Posted 04/02/2022 at 05:40:40
@Don Alexander #5, I think the article is really a credible and valuable attempt, to help people remember the player.

He was as low profile as it gets, especially when – if I remember correctly – he was paraded along with Rooney, as the new young players who signed the pro-contracts. To be featured alongside someone who has already been capturing media attention, that couldn't be as chalk and cheese type of media showcase.

He is actually a good crosser of the ball, much better than Coleman, though Coleman is much more penetrative as an attacking force. He probably doesn't overlap as much as Baines, besides his style and skillsets, is that he doesn't have a Pienaar to combine with. Often, his crosses come when they are laid back to him.

He was actually versatile enough and played centre-back for a few games (at least one European game) when the squad was threadbare, and he did reasonably well.

For him to feel so bitter after all that years of service, speaks volume of how poorly the club has been, in the way they dealt with this. And it's not just him; Ossie too.

In fact, when we read about it, apparently, Big Dunc had to queue up with all the young lads, to be marched into Moyes's office, to be told that he was let go. While the accounts apparently showed that it was a mix-up, it probably again points to how the running of the club behind the scenes, left much to be desired.

Anyways, back to Hibbert. Nobody could script it better, when he scored on his testimonial. That was something to behold.

Mahora Smith
7 Posted 04/02/2022 at 05:48:55
Long time supporter from New Zealand. Long time reader of the site. Second time poster (the previous time was pre the registration requirement).

I have just registered on the site and am posting now to say what a snide comment that was by Don Alexander. I have seen some shit on this site but this takes the biscuit. Has Mr Alexander ever played the game, or any other? Does he know the respect people like Hibbo have from their team mates in any sport?

Saddened to read his comment.

Good luck to the team Saturday and Tuesday.

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 04/02/2022 at 06:21:13
A tenacious, honest and traditional full back. I always thought that Tony Hibbert got unfair criticism, possibly a result of being one of the local whipping boys alongside Leon Osman who is one of the most technically gifted players I've seen play for Everton over the past 20 years. Easy targets.

As I've said elsewhere, for Evertonians who rightfully questioned Lucas Digne's defensive qualities, they'd like Target, the player he is replacing at Villa. Hibbert's qualities were defensive. Unfortunately, unless you uncover a gem such as the newly appointed member of our manager's coaching staff, the phrase involving cake and eat it springs to mind.

I always thought had it not been for height, Hibbert would have made a very good centre back. He could read and anticipate the game. I believe as he came through, he was actually considered a defensive midfielder; could he have made a decent sweeper?

On Everton full backs in my life, Baines has to be the best. Van den Hauwe was iconic, but I didn't really think he was great, he just played in a great team; another one I thought could have been a good centre back? And Gary Stevens, if only for that sniper's bullet of a shot he had in his locker.

Darren Hind
9 Posted 04/02/2022 at 07:47:05
Get paid, Danny.

It never ceases to amaze me that he was so badly scapegoated for the loss against Chelsea in the final. Our midfield surrendered almost total possession. Our centre-backs were bullied and our goalie threw Lampard's weak winner.

Twinkle-toes Ossie was, as you say, technically gifted, but he would have been the very last player you would ask to provide protection to your full-back. Hibbo was left exposed against what was, at the time, the most formidable left side in world football. He was coming back from injury, harshly booked early, and suffered sunburn. Yet he was the only Everton player that day who can say we were never behind when he was on the pitch.

I prefer to remember his crunching tackles against Paul Scholes. I prefer to remember Christiano Ronaldo dropping his hands in utter despair when for the umpteenth time Hibbo prevented him passing.

No great footballer, just a defender who liked defending. If there was ever a player who did what it said on the tin more than Tony Hibbert, I didnt see him. Evertonian.

Lee Courtliff
10 Posted 04/02/2022 at 17:51:44
He played CB against Man City in Jan '12 and was outstanding. If he was a couple of inches taller that would have been his position for the entirety of his career.

Very good defender, but an average/poor footballer. There was a spell around '05/'06 where he couldn't even pass a ball!! I watched him at home to 'Boro in the League Cup and was amazed at how poor he was with the ball.

With all due respect, considering his actual footballing ability, he did very well out of Everton Football Club. I highly doubt there would have been a long list of clubs clamouring for his services had he put in a transfer request during his 'peak years'.

I know that sounds a bit harsh but I did rate him as a defender. Just not a footballer.

Don Alexander
11 Posted 04/02/2022 at 20:33:54
Mahora (#7), first, welcome to the site.

Second, I intended the English dictionary definition of "mundane", namely "dull", and no more.

Thirdly, the same dictionary defines "snide" as "derogatory or mocking in an indirect way". I didn't intend any such inference - but you chose to take it that way for whatever reason.

Maybe I need to swot up on the New Zealand dictionary in future, whatever that is.

And as to inferring I should have played a sport to any standard before making an assessment of a professional footballer I'll revert you to the English definition of "asinine" if that's all right with you.

I played amateur football into my 30's as a matter of fact, as a two-footed defender all across the back-line as and when. I was mundane on a good day!

Danny O’Neill
12 Posted 04/02/2022 at 20:55:37
I played a decent standard Don. I was also two footed. Interestingly, I was naturally right footed but taught myself to use my left. And ended up being used mostly on the left either as part of a back 3 or as a wing back.

Darren, I only referred to it a few days ago, but you gave me flashbacks to Lescott giving one of the best strikers in the world at least a 10 yard run on him to thump home an impressive equaliser. As you say though, where was the midfield protection, even though Drogba was cheating. Cheating in the football term; does the defender stick tight or mark space when the striker drifts?

Back to Tony Hibbert. A quiet and modest individual but an absolute warrior on the pitch.

I still remember watching Leon Osman leaping like the proverbial Salmon to head a looping header home from outside the box as we came back from a goal down against City. I was in the Main Stand and had a direct view. Majestic.

Kieran Kinsella
13 Posted 04/02/2022 at 21:07:35
Hibbert started getting grief Coleman had his impressive loan spell at Blackpool as he seemed to offer a more dynamic modern style attacking full back.

It was also in the era when we were getting flooded with foreign players in the Premier League and I think some fans wanted someone more exotic. But in terms of doing his job, putting in a shift, defending like his life depended on it, then Hibbert was a dependable figure in the Moyes era.

Jimmy Hogan
14 Posted 07/02/2022 at 10:15:28
Danny #12, you reminded me of that saying by Churchill. "He was a modest man, but he had a lot to be modest about".
Dennis Stevens
15 Posted 07/02/2022 at 12:15:30
So you were a bit of a latter day Joe Mercer, Danny?

Danny O’Neill
16 Posted 07/02/2022 at 12:31:26
According to my Grandad, nowhere near that level, Dennis.

He always maintained Joe Mercer wasn't given the accolades he deserved as an Everton player, but I can only go off his say-so.

I guess the old school left-half would have fitted well into a modern 3-4-3 formation??

Tom Bowers
17 Posted 07/02/2022 at 12:49:40
Many players have passed through the gates of Goodison and never got the praise they deserved and some may argue that they didn't get a fair crack of the whip.

This may have been because of the manager or managers at that time.

We all have our sympathies with certain players and whilst not criticizing the effort and loyalty shown by the likes of Osman and Hibbert it has to be said they did play many games even though they were not really top class.

Just as in other jobs people often feel they get mistreated when they have been let go or retired too early but they don't look in the mirror and ask themselves honest questions.

I can point to Rooney, Varadi, Beckford and a few others and wonder what may have happened to them with the right backroom boys etc. Of course we all know about Rooney.

Allen Rodgers
18 Posted 07/02/2022 at 13:11:34
Hibbo could cross a ball. I seem to recall he got 2 assists in the 4-4 at Old Trafford but he was better known as a tenacious defender, although often done on pace.

I think his last Premier League appearance at Goodison Park was when he was brought on as a sub, to groans from all around me. Those groans turned to cheers when he almost immediately did his trademark sliding tackle on an opponent. Someone may remember the details.

Barry Rathbone
19 Posted 07/02/2022 at 13:25:00
Take away the money and footy as a job seems a dreadful occupation.

At the whim of whoever manages the outfit mixing with team mates who are basically yobs amidst abusive fans (of your club!!) whilst living in the fear of being shown the door at any moment – crazy life.

Once you get past fantasy headlines it's easy to why many players go off the rails and start hating the game. Hibbo was a tenacious defender who got dog's abuse –another victim of the modern idiom of "supporting" via personal vitriol.

Something I will never understand

Dennis Stevens
21 Posted 07/02/2022 at 13:52:56
There's me thinking you were saying Joe Mercer was a neat player, Danny!
Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 07/02/2022 at 14:34:09
I have to agree that Tony Hibbert was a very good defensive full back, took no prisoners, if he had been a bit better going forward then he could have possibly played for England,but that part of his game wasn’t up to scratch unfortunately.

On the other part of the argument that he was treated badly by Everton, I don’t understand that, the last four seasons of his contract Tony played twelve games, he was granted a testimonial, don’t know what his wages were but the last four years of his contract he hardly played but presume he was well payed, I would think he retired a pretty wealthy man.

Joe McMahon
23 Posted 07/02/2022 at 15:17:16
Wowser here's a name from the years of nowt. To me (and my opinion), Tony Hibbert summed up the 11 years of Moyes, good at the basics but nothing else. Not one Premier League goal from so many appearances sums him up – even Tim Howard got one.
Brian Wilkinson
24 Posted 07/02/2022 at 15:41:30
Cannot fault Hibbert as a full back as tough as they come, that was his job and he defended well, no one can take that away.

The difference with Coleman was he could attack down the flank, cut inside, take two to three players on, then pick out a pass to a teammate.

That was Hibbert's weakness, he never had the skill to take players on, or compose and steady himself to find a teammate, as soon as the ball landed at Hibbert's feet, it was hit in the box nearly every time, without taking a touch, or to look for a teammate.

Like I say Hibbert was a brilliant defender, but if only someone could have coached him to take a touch and pick a pass out in the danger areas, he would have been an absolute legend, great player that he was, I still think Coleman was better if I had to choose a right back.

Phill Thompson
25 Posted 09/02/2022 at 13:31:25
Well he emerged from hibernation the other day, appearing briefly on Sky to comment on Kane Smith of Boreham Wood wearing the Hibbert shirt.

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