Millennium Giant - 1990-99Most Everton legends can point to the number of great matches they have produced in Royal Blue, as a testament to their status.
It is no exaggeration to suggest that Dave Watson can point to the number of great seasons he has enjoyed at Goodison.
Since signing from Norwich City in 1986, Watson has been a rugged and reliable figure at the heart of Everton's defence, he has been an inspirational and exemplary captain, he has been both caretaker-boss and coach - but most of all, he has been consistently outstanding.
His performance levels have rarely dropped anything below excellent, and he was a unanimous choice as Everton's Millennium Giant of the 1990s.When Howard Kendall agreed to pay Norwich City £1m in August 1986 for his services - a club record at the time for the Blues - the Canaries' boss Ken Brown wailed: "Losing Dave Watson is like having my right-arm cut off." Perceived at the time as managerial hyberbole, it soon transpired that the Norwich boss was understating Watson's contribution to a football club. In his first season at Everton, Watson made 35 League appearances as Everton regained the League Championship they had loaned to Liverpool the previous season.
|Stats and Honours|
|Everton Appearances: 524 |
|Everton Goals: 38 |
|First Division Championship 1986/87 |
|FA Cup winner: 1995 |
|Charity Shield winner: 1987 and 1995 |
|FA Cup runner-up: 1989 |
|Simod Cup Runner-up: 1989 |
|Zenith Data Systems Cup runner-up: 1991 |
|England caps: 12 (6 with Everton)|
Strangely, it took the player a little time to win his way into the affections of the discerning Everton supporters. But central defensive partner Kevin Ratcliffe had no doubts. When Watson took over as captain from the most successful player ever to wear the skipper's armband at Goodison, Ratcliffe described his successor as: "the best centre-half I've ever played with." More than 20-other central defenders, who have come and gone during Watson's 13 years of service at Everton, would agree. He won the first of his 12 England caps in the Maracana Stadium against Brazil in 1984 - when England celebrated a rare triumph in South America. The last of his international call-ups came in 1988, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that a succession of England managers dismissed his talents too swiftly.
In the build-up to Euro '96, Watson led a Hong-Kong Select XI against Terry Venables European Championship bound side. The Select XI was comprised of a hotch-potch of Hong Kong club players and veteran Premiership stars - and were supposed to give England a morale-boosting send-off by conceding a glut of goals. Watson, however, has never accepted defeat easily in his life and the Select XI severely embarrassed England's best. That was the summer after Watson proudly ascended the Wembley steps to raise aloft the last major trophy collected by an Everton captain - the FA Cup. Led in typically inspirational fashion by Watson, the Blues ensured Manchester United ended the 1994-95 campaign empty-handed with an against the odds victory at Wembley.
Watson displayed his knack of scoring significant goals along that Wembley trail - with a quarter-final match-winner against Newcastle United. He also hammered the winning Goodison goal against Liverpool in 1991, in the fifth round of the same competition, and few who witnessed it will forget a 25- yard exocet past the England goalkeeper David Seaman at Highbury in 1995 - with his left foot!
Goals, however, were a bonus from a player whose defensive excellence earned him respect from everybody who played with and against him.