Hibbert's determination rewarded with what could be Everton swansong

by | 06/05/2016  62 Comments  [Jump to last]

Tony Hibbert's refusal to give in to a succession of injury setbacks and his advancing years means that he has been able to fight his way back to fitness to feature at first-team level again after a long absence.

As the now 35-year-old fullback has battled injury over the past couple of years, it looked as though he may never pull on the Royal Blue Jersey in anger again before what is likely to be the end of his professional career this summer.

However, Everton's need for cover at right back given Seamus Coleman's recent hamstring problem and Roberto Martinez's apparent reluctance to hand Callum Connolly his full debut has left a void for Hibbert to fill over the past couple of games and he made his first appearance for the senior team as a substitute against Bournemouth last weekend.

With Coleman doubtful, the veteran could be named in the starting XI for tomorrow's game against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium and would also be in contention for the final two matches at Sunderland and against Norwich if needed.

Martinez explains that a decision over Hibbert's future will be made at the end of the season but says he has worked hard to get back to a level where he can contribute in the final few games of the season.

"[I]t has been such a frustrating time for him in the last two seasons,” Martinez told the Liverpool Echo's Phil Kirkbride.

“He hasn't been able to keep himself fit but, again, the way he never accepted defeat.

“He has been working extremely hard in different ways, he had to go through surgery and he wanted to help the team as soon as he saw the team needed his experience and his know-how.

“Tony, at the moment, is working hard to be in the team in the next three matches and his future will be decided at the end of the season.”

It's not clear whether Hibbert would consider or be offered a coaching role at Finch Farm when he hangs up his boots but his manager admitted that the defender has recently been opening up a little and offering some pointers to the club's youth players.

"I've seen a little bit of a change in the last couple of weeks," Martinez continued. "In] the Under-21s game against Leicester, all of a sudden he shared his experience and spoke to the young players and clearly that is something that impressed everyone because that is not his normal way of behaving."

Coleman was described by the manager has being in with "a chance" of facing the Foxes in tomorrow's late-afternoon kick-off and, like Gareth Barry, will face a late fitness to see if he can play as the first-choice right back.  

Reader Comments (62)

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Colin Glassar
1 Posted 06/05/2016 at 08:10:14
Give him a new contract Roberto. Hibbo is our future!!

One thing though, I remember Martinez saying even though Hibbo wasn't playing he was sharing his invaluable experience with the younger players (this was about a year or so ago) and now he says Hibbo has spoken for the first time to the young lads?

Stop being a big fibber Roberto and tell us the truth, does Hibbo actually talk or does he just mime?

Anthony Dwyer
2 Posted 06/05/2016 at 08:21:37
He's talking to the younger players all the time Colin.

Hibo, Ossie,Pienaar, and Gibson are consistently chattying away to our youth, banging on about how to become successful.

God only knows were we would be without that invaluable input, probably all the way down in 11 id guess.

Paul Cherrington
3 Posted 06/05/2016 at 08:47:22
I love Hibbo and would be glad to see him handed a coaching job with us when he finished playing. he would soon get the defence sorted out and actually defending again.

Sums up the state of affairs when he's been the best defender I've seen in our team all season last week & he's been out injured for most of it, not playing.

Kevin Turner
4 Posted 06/05/2016 at 08:47:30
As much as he's been a loyal servant it says it all really that we've got this guy still in the frame for a place in our team. We should be giving the kids a go in these meaningless games.

What's Hibbo bringing to the party? By all means a cameo in the last 10 minutes of our last home fixture so we see him off and say thanks but before then it's a No from me!

Anto Byrne
5 Posted 06/05/2016 at 10:17:05
In the words of Tony Hibbert, marking space does not win you the ball back. At least a crunching tackle leaves your calling card and gets you the ball back.
Phil Sammon
6 Posted 06/05/2016 at 10:26:30
I like Hibbo – he's committed and he's Blue. However, is he really this glittering world class pro, dishing out invaluable advice to Everton's youth.

If you take away the fact that he's a fan living the dream – then he's actually a very average player.

I feel like I'm seeing the negative in everything when it comes to Everton lately. I just reckon the likes of young Connolly would benefit more from playing a first team game than he would from sitting down and having a chinwag with Tony Hibbert.

Tony J Williams
7 Posted 06/05/2016 at 12:24:32
How does he get the time to talk to the youngsters, what with running Mother Russia?

Play him up front against the hung over Leicester defence and give us the riot we have been waiting over a decade for!!

Can't be any worse than Niasse...

Steve Cotton
8 Posted 06/05/2016 at 12:26:26
"It has been such a frustrating time for him in the last two seasons” Martinez told the Liverpool Echo's Phil Kirkbride.

It's been a frustrating time for all of us for the last two seasons, Roberto!! Do the right thing!!

Kieran Kinsella
9 Posted 06/05/2016 at 13:00:29
Colin I thought the same thing. So if he never spoke, what was his important role in the dressing room? Kit man, cleaner, masseuse, RM is just full of it.
Charlie Lloyd
10 Posted 06/05/2016 at 13:06:23
Great to see Hibbo back last week plus he played very well. He's been a good servant to the club but I don't want sentimentality to take over. A new one year contract wouldn't be a good move and I'd like Connolly to appear again this season.
Dan Parker
11 Posted 06/05/2016 at 14:07:15
The club should reward Tony by giving him a player/coach role next season. Lord knows our defense needs the leadership and inspiration Hibbo provides. Legend.
Dick Fearon
13 Posted 06/05/2016 at 14:32:09
Hibbo would have to be a poor choice as a coach the same goes for Jags. Both are too quiet and lack the kind of charisma necessary to be a leader.
Paul Andrews
14 Posted 06/05/2016 at 14:38:12
His days are numbered but he has been a great servant to Everton.

Defending duties first,no nonsense defender with an ability to read the game,an awareness of space around him and tenacity in the tackle.

Just what we could do with now.

Denis Richardson
15 Posted 06/05/2016 at 14:41:15
Just because a player has been at a club for a while doesn't automatically mean they'd make a good coach.

Hibbo has barely played in almost two years and as far as I'm aware didn't use the time out to start any of the UEFA coaching badges. Doesn't look like actions of a guy keen to go into coaching/management when he hangs his boots up.

Pretty clear he'd rather go to his carp farm in France instead. He was a good servant but doesn't strike me as the coaching sort tbh.

Ian Robert
16 Posted 06/05/2016 at 16:33:38
Bless him
Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 06/05/2016 at 16:55:09
I'm swimming against the tide here, but my vote is for Hibbo over Connolly. I love that Hibbo has fought all the way back to the starting 11, and his last performance showed that he's still worth more than a cameo. A guy working that hard over two discouraging years has earned his final chance, and I'm delighted for him.

There will be plenty of time for Connolly.

Christopher Dover
18 Posted 06/05/2016 at 17:04:35
Why not play ALL the players that will be retiring, moving on, or just crap for our last game?
They could be led out by Roberto onto the pitch and all given a fond fair well by the fans, so we know our leader will take his phenomenal team out the ground and keep walking into the sunset when the match is over.
Gerry Morrison
19 Posted 06/05/2016 at 17:51:37
I wish we had more players like Hibbo.
Damian Wilde
20 Posted 06/05/2016 at 19:46:29
30 grand a week for two years for a few games, decent coin.
Julian Wait
21 Posted 06/05/2016 at 19:47:21
I watched his positioning in the last last game and he was spot on, and made some good challenges.

He always found a position that both cut off a pass and allowed him at his man, and then he got close ASAP when the ball came without overcommitting. It was a stark contrast to what we've watched all season.

He actually could play a few more years but not for a team with Top 6 aspirations. But for Everton, he should be the past, not the future, or the present even, and am not convinced he should get another playing contract.

He'd be a great defensive coach. We need one, that's for sure.

Christy Ring
22 Posted 06/05/2016 at 20:34:26
More Martinez gibberish, but Hibbert was one hell of a full back, never threatened going forward, but not many wingers got the better of him. Could do a lot worse than Tony to teach the kids how to defend.
Alan Bodell
23 Posted 06/05/2016 at 20:45:29
If we should be awarded a penalty in the last games he plays for us I'd love him to take it but the piley on would probably cause a match abandonment, oh but Lukaku would no doubt snatch the ball and blow one into the comfort zone of the GK.
Ian Hollingworth
24 Posted 06/05/2016 at 20:49:44
FFS is there no end to this nightmare.
Mick Davies
25 Posted 06/05/2016 at 20:56:45
'Great servant' . .'Make a good coach' . . 'I love Hibbo' . . Liverpool get shut of one of their greatest ever 'servants' because he isn't up to it anymore at 35.
Their we have THE difference between a club striving to win honours, and a convalescence home
Martin Nicholls
26 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:03:16
"The club should reward Tony"! I've heard it all now - hasn't he been massively rewarded with huge salary cheques for nearly 20 years?
Bobby Thomas
27 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:13:46
My take on Hibbo is that if he was 6ft or over he would have been a center half. And it would have suited him a lot better. He's a very good defender.

Instead at 5.8 or whatever he is he had to play full back as the role was completely changing.

Dave Abrahams
28 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:14:06
I liked Tony as a defender, very good, offered next to nothing going forward and didn't or couldn't try and improve that side of his game, the coaches at Everton learned him nothing about attacking play.he earned his very good wages as a defensive full back so thanks for your time here and good look in the future.
Tom Bowers
29 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:18:30
Hibbo has been a great servant and what else?
He was an average full back at best and frequently was caught out of position but relied on his speed to get him out of trouble which didn't always happen.
If he has the necessary coaching qualifications then offer him a job if there is a vacancy but other than that it is time to give time to the younger guys to impress.
Everyone seems to agree that Everton need to move some players elsewhere so let's get it done now and usher in a new era.
The Martinez era has become an embarrassment where the squad in the beginning only flattered to deceive and has spiralled downward ever since. No more, Mr. Nice Guy says Alice and me.
Bobby Thomas
30 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:19:02
Dave # 28

I think Hibberts attacking play clearly improved as his career went on & to suggest he didnt or couldn't develop that side of his game is way off beam.

Andrew Laird
31 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:19:09
Loved Hibbert but there is nothing to suggest he could be a coach, let alone a good one. Perhaps nil satis should be replaced afer all with "Sentimentality genera mediocrity"..... It's the Everton way (whatever the fuck that is).
Andrew James
32 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:22:50
Martinez portrays Hibbert as a quiet person who all of a sudden started geeing up and giving guidance to the younger players.

I don't buy this at all and why?

Because in a dead rubber European game at Goodison near Xmas in 2009, Moyes felt confident enough in him to send him out as captain, at centre half to organise a team full of teenagers who he was speaking to all match.

No, this one just sounds like our manager wittering for the sake of it yet again to reach some kind of positive.

I swear Moyes didn't talk this much. Is someone following Martinez around with a camera and a mike?

Andrew Laird
33 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:23:07
Forgot to add that Tony will probably be getting his fishing rods out for the foreseeable future and good luck to him.
Dominic Tonge
34 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:25:00
Tony Hibbert is a proper Evertonian. He would bleed blue blood if you cut him, I will never fault a player who would give anything to run through walls for my club. Just glad I got to see his pirloesque free kick wizardry against AEK Athens. He scored, we rioted. Tony Hibbert - legend. We have been critical of a lack of effort, drive, passion this season ..... A certain cup game with a half fit hibbo showing how much it meant springs to mind! Unfortunately you can't coach that.
Andrew James
35 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:34:40
Agreed Dominic, he got shafted in the FA Cup final.
Alan Bodell
36 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:35:13
I love the guy but the return to coach doesn't always work and with Duncan Ferguson I rest my case.
Dave Abrahams
37 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:37:52
Bobby (30) not sure about that although I did see him put two crosses in that stayed in play, both in the same game,usually they went behind for a goal kick.

Not being sarcastic, if Tony could have improved the attacking side of his game he would have been a top class full back because I believe he was an excellent defender.

Minik Hansen
38 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:43:21
Colin #1 I think he means in the way Hibbo talked in the dressing room, must be.
James Flynn
39 Posted 06/05/2016 at 21:49:08
Mike (17) - Well said. Some short memories in here, especially my new main man Hot Take Willdee (20). Nicely done, son.
John Daley
40 Posted 06/05/2016 at 22:26:52
"Hibbert was one hell of a full back, never threatened going forward, but not many wingers got the better of him."

Only those with real pace.

That he's still in the running for a first-team start, seven years after being ruthlessly targetted and taken to the cleaners in the FA Cup Final, say's it all about the strength of our 'best squad for thirty years'.

Nothing against Hibbert at all. Not saying he was crap. Not saying he hasn't been a model pro. He has, however, always been a player of average ability.

The fact he knows the requirements of his role, will stick to the task, put every ounce of effort in and never stop trying is all very laudable, but shouldn't we expect that as a given from any player paid a fucking fortune to go out and do something every kid dreams of?

That such attributes are now being highlighted and even held up as 'inspirational' by some, just goes to show what a spineless, strolling, shoulder shrugging, sweat phobic, pack of pussies we've become accustomed to seeing over recent seasons. We've got a squad swimming with players lacking real character and commitment and it'll take a hell of a lot more than Tony Hibbert being given a 'based purely on sentiment' coaching role to drum some into the soft bastards.

Colin Glassar
41 Posted 06/05/2016 at 22:38:41
Being a bit harsh on Hibbo aren't you John? Hibbo might be crap but he's one of us and he's a role model to lots of little kids on Scotty road, and the surrounding areas, who dream of playing for their beloved Blues.

If Chuck Norris was a footballer he'd be Hibbo. In Hibbo we trust!!

Don Alexander
42 Posted 06/05/2016 at 22:39:18
Sad to say the club's attitude in keeping Hibbo until now reeks of complacency. At his best he's only ever been a good right back and has never shown qualities to take it to the next level, never mind the one or two beyond even that. I've no complaints about him as a bloke though cause he's never claimed to be otherwise. He knew his level, someone kept on giving him contracts, and as result he's made for life, so what's a chap to do? But spare me the "he's special" mumbo-jumbo.
Anthony Dwyer
43 Posted 07/05/2016 at 00:34:36
The most worrying thing about the idea of starting Hibo, is that we have young lads chomping at the bit for a run out and Martinez is playing midfielders or pensioners over them !

But apparently he gives the kids a chance !!

Christy Ring
44 Posted 07/05/2016 at 10:41:41
John 40# I have to say you're a bit over the top in your criticism of Hibbert. He was more than an average fullback, and in the FA Cup final, he was booked very early in the game, and that's why he was targeted, and he couldn't dive into tackles.
John Daley
45 Posted 07/05/2016 at 11:45:40
Harsh? Over the top? Dip shit? Moi?

I thought I was actually making an effort not to be too critical because, as I said, he's undoubtedly made of the right character. However, if I'm being totally honest, even in Hibbert's hey day, I always preferred Neville at right-back and there's not been many an occasion since Coleman learnt to look up and stop running about like the school loon in the Super Mario jacket, sprinting down the corridor whilst shouting 'meep meep', where I've thought 'Shit. I really wish he'd have given Hibbo the start'.

As for the Chuck Norris comparison, Colin? Also works if you flip it around. If Hibbert were an actor he'd be Chuck Norris and...with the best will in the world and even when wankered on booze...'Delta Force 2: The Columbian Connection' ain't no fucking 'Die Hard'.

Paul Andrews
46 Posted 07/05/2016 at 12:12:11
John Daley,

He was "ruthlessly targeted" not because of his ability at right back. It was because Moyes played Osman wide right (he was never a player who had the energy to go up and down in a wide position) on a blazing hot day. Hibbert was left two-on-one time after time.

Darren Hind
47 Posted 07/05/2016 at 12:17:59
Harsh in the extreme JD

Hibbert was'nt specifically targeted in that cup final. He just happened to be facing probably the strongest left left side in world football at the time -Malouda and Cole - and if he was targeted. so was every other right back who faced Chelsea that season.

Hibbert had spent weeks out injured before that game, his only protection came in the form of the fearsome Leon Osman. to cap it all he was booked early.

I think the only targeting that went on that day came from people who were looking for a scapegoat. Chelsea battered us all over the pitch, not one single Everton player won his personal battle . . . . and lets not forget, when the injury Hibbo was nursing eventually forced his withdrawal . . The game was still all square.

Ordinary ? yes when he had the ball, but there have been few fullbacks who have been able to time a tackle like Tony. I still remember the look of total frustration on Ronaldo's gob as time and again Hibbo frustrated him.

I'd pay ten times the admission fee against Norwich to see him get the winner

Ray Griffin
48 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:00:48
Less of the sentimentality, Hibbert was an ordinary full back who was past it at least 4 or 5 seasons ago. There's a lot of talk about his passion & commitment - compared to some of the current squad that's understandable - but surely it's the duty of a professional player to be passionate & commited.

As for becoming a coach, I think the first priority would be to dismiss the current bunch we have involved in defensive coaching (an oxymoron?) & bring in a well established & respected individual who can bring back fortress Goodison

Richard Lyons
49 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:22:26
For some reason, my abiding memory of Hibbo was when Clattenburg was instructed to send him off by that RS git-face (can't remember his name).

I'm in two minds over this; nice to give a loyal servant a chance to have a last few games, but on the other hand, what does it say about RM's confidence in the youth?

Brent Stephens
50 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:32:07
Yes, I think it's the passion I loved in him the most. Not untalented but not exceptional at full back. He wasn't familiar with the England squad.
John Daley
52 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:44:42

I'm trying really hard not to be but I'm obviously failing miserably here.

Not really wanting to dig over that cup final too much, but I thought Hibbert was brought off for purely tactical reasons (as in he was struggling to cope and he was already on a yellow) rather than it being due to him feeling an injury?

Regardless, for the 45 minutes he was on the pitch, he had a nightmare that day. I don't think that can be denied or written off as some urban myth conjured up by a few Everton fans looking for an easy target to throw blame at.

"You wouldn't wish it on anyone but Tony Hibbert, the Everton full-back, was freezing in the sunshine" and "...the confidence of the opposing full back Tony Hibbert, was burnt to a crisp long before his replacement at the interval" are just a couple of quotes from match reports back in the day. I presume those people had no axe to grind and no reason to look for a 'scapegoat', so were just giving an honest summary of what they witnessed.

Michael Penley
53 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:47:56
I find it a bit odd the bit about Hibbert being quiet. When we played the derby at half time Tim Cahill tweeted something like "Hope Dunc and Hibbo can sort them out", so you would think Tony must have been a leader in the changeroom in the past. Maybe it's just discontent with the Martinez regime that he's been quiet and Roberto has never known him to be anything else?
Ray Said
54 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:57:03
TH always made the most of what he had and what he lacked in pure ability he made up for with hard work and effort. Pity some of the current squad who are blessed with more natural talent don't share his attitude
Steve Davies
55 Posted 07/05/2016 at 13:59:24
He scores when he wants! Shoot! I just watched the pitch invasion after he scored against AEK on youtube. Brilliant.

I love Hibbo but there is no room for sentiment. You always put your best 11 out on the pitch. That is why Howard should not have played last week.

Everton bang on about the past to much. Put the youngsters on if they are good enough. It is the future that is important.

Eugene Ruane
56 Posted 07/05/2016 at 14:21:27
Colin (41) - "Being a bit harsh on Hibbo aren't you John? Hibbo might be crap but he's one of us.."

Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, that 'one of us' thing isn't always appreciated.


Jim Lloyd
57 Posted 07/05/2016 at 14:22:45
I always thought Tony Hibbert was a reasonable fullback, but that's about it. I don't think he should be figuring in our first team now. It is poor that Everton don't have a good cover for Seamus, although the young lad did well when he came on last week.

As for the final, I thought we were ruthlessly exposed on our right as Tony Hibbert, with Osman in front of him, was overrun and that was the end of our chance for a win. As soon as Chelsea started probing down their left, it was game over. I think Moyes should have changed both Hibbert and Osman after about half an hour that day. They were like rabbits in the headlights.

But now, what on earth are we doing playing another 35 year old and one who's been injured for ages. That isn't meant to be a slur on Tony Hibbert, it is a criticism of the paucity of good class players available for the first team.

For today though, and the next couple, I'm not that concerned as we're not going to be involved in anything major, except for those teams who are involved in the relegation struggle.

Patrick Murphy
58 Posted 07/05/2016 at 14:41:59
Eugene (56) Is that video from last season's player of the year awards?
Chris James
59 Posted 07/05/2016 at 15:16:56
Nice to give Hibbo a run out before he retires.
Shame we didn't play him instead of an out of position (and frankly out of his depth) Besic at Wembley.

On the subject of a last run out in lieu of service - I'm hoping that this is the same courtesy we're affording Martinez before he too is put out to pasture.

John Codling
61 Posted 07/05/2016 at 20:11:58
The pensioner is injured again, but not to worry we can now give this millionaire has-been a job on the coaching team. After all he has been a good servant, so deserves another large wedge of money to help run his private fishery in France.

Hibbert, Osman, Gibson, Oviedo, Pienaar, McGeady, McCarthy, all need to fuck off.

Clive Rogers
62 Posted 07/05/2016 at 20:48:24
Hibbert has started six games in the last four seasons. We have paid him £1 million per game.
Darren Hind
64 Posted 08/05/2016 at 06:06:59

I accept Hibbert was murdered that day, but I think in his case there were mitigating circumstances.

I have seen and heard hundreds of comments about his performance that day. Mention his name and somebody will mention the 2009 cup final.

I just don't get why Cahill, Fellaini and the lamentable Neville (all of whom were outplayed with such a contemptible ease, for the whole ninety minutes) have gotten away with it while Hibbo, to this day, still takes the flack.

Why does nobody ever mention how easily Yobo and Lescott were bullied ? Ossies's disappearing act ? Howards cringeworthy limp wristed attempt to keep out Lampards tame effort ?

I'm not sayng its an urban myth that Hibbert had a Weston that day. What I AM saying, is that the performance's and the support of his team mates have developed into some sort of urban oversight.

I don't get it. The whole team bottled it that day, Yet here we are seven years later and the one man who didnt experience being behind that day, still takes all the flack.

If the Ginger twats decision to play an unfit Hibbert was'nt the worst decision made that day, then the decision to play Ossie in front of him against two proper proper athletes must have been.

I know you are trying to avoid criticising him any further and that by having to respond to my comments it becomes kinda unavoidable ... but it's not really you I'm challenging, it's this widely believed perception.

Tony Hibbert must be the only man in football history who was responsible for a defeat which didn't actually happen until he was off the pitch.


It's a measure of where we are at the moment when an ageing full back who has never won anything, can still draw sixty odd posts

Mike Berry
65 Posted 09/05/2016 at 21:02:10
Tony is a REAL defender. Never likely to please Martinez. Really ring rusty against Bournemouth, but some great interceptions. Think he will end up with Moyes at Celtic? Bet he scores then
Patrick Carty
66 Posted 09/05/2016 at 21:16:25
John (61) Are you happy enough to keep kone then ☺

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