The slew of goodwill that followed Alan Irvine’s recent return to Goodison Park perfectly demonstrated the reverence the Glaswegian enjoys at the Club.
Previously a player in the 1980’s, Irvine is best known to Everton supporters as the man who skilfully assisted David Moyes during the first six years of his Goodison tenure.
During that time the pair transformed the Club – their cocktail of youthful zest and ardent dedication personified by the team’s ever-improving performances.
Qualification for the Champions League heralded the regular return of Everton to the country’s top six before Irvine left to pursue his own managerial ambitions.
That led him to Preston North End where, despite having one of the Championship’s smallest budgets, he steered the Club into the end of season play-offs in 2009.
That adventure ended in disappointment, but such was his burgeoning reputation he was entrusted as the man to enliven the moribund fortunes of League One Sheffield Wednesday.
A change of ownership at Hillsborough saw Irvine replaced, however, and he left the Club in February 2011.
But the Owls’ loss proved Everton’s gain as he was lured back to Goodison to replace the venerable Ray Hall as the figurehead of the Club’s famed Academy.
A respected youth coach at Newcastle and Blackburn earlier in his coaching career, Irvine admitted the pull of the Blues was what ultimately persuaded him to abandon frontline management and return to his roots.