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He rarely grabs the headlines and nor does he seek to, but there is no doubt that Tony Hibbert has again been one of Everton’s unsung heroes this season.
The unflustered defender is enjoying some of the best form of his career and it has come during the course of a campaign where competition at right back has been fierce.
Hibbert has made that position his own for the most part and only injury forced him out of the team for much of January. Of late, the 31-year-old has been in and out of the side, but he displayed all of his battling qualities in the recent Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool.
In a match all Evertonians will want to forget, Hibbert rejoined Everton’s back four (having been a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in the previous fixture) and performed impressively – regularly halting the progress of the Reds' danger men from the flanks.
It is testament to Hibbert’s skill as a defender that David Moyes still considers him as important to his team now, as he was back in March 2002. The defender is the only survivor from Moyes’ first team selection as Everton manager against Fulham and he has been consistently in and around the team throughout the Scot’s tenure at Goodison.
Hibbert, who himself celebrated 10 years as an Everton player in March 2011, epitomises the determination and spirit of Moyes’ teams.
Having made over 250 appearances for the club and represented the Blues on more occasions in Europe than any other player, Hibbert deserves great credit for his contribution to the Everton cause. He has always been a player who can be relied upon.
From his debut as a 20-year-old at Upton Park against West Ham United (where he won his team a crucial first half penalty) to his presence in Everton’s remarkable run to fourth place in 2005, Hibbert has experienced all of the twists and turns over the course of the past 11 years.
Throughout good times and bad, ‘Hibbo’ has fought for the Blue shirt at every corner. He might not be known for his contribution in the final third, but he has always been a useful attacking outlet for the Blues and he has the ability to cross with conviction from the right. This has been evident on more than one occasion this season. However, it is Hibbert’s combative qualities which earn him most plaudits.
His outstanding defensive display at the heart of Everton’s backline against Manchester City, in particular, stands out. The Blues, who were injury-stricken, dug in and outfought the league leaders. And for many that night, Hibbert was the Toffees stand-out performer.
It is Hibbert’s application to do his job in the right way on the pitch that has always endeared him to Evertonians. The defender is a Blue through and through and most Everton supporters can relate to him.
Now, as we enter the business end of Everton’s season (where there is still a lot to play for), Hibbert remains a key figure in Moyes’ spirited side. While
Club captain Phil Neville and Seamus Coleman, among others, provide welcome competition at right back, Hibbert’s ability to get on with his job and do his best when called upon make him the ultimate professional, who any manager would want at their club.
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