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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

Alex Young

Alex Young

Millennium Giant 1960-69

Alex Young or Alan Ball? The inspirational, firebrand who combined passion and polish, or the sublime artist who was almost deified by the fans? The panel's choice as to who should be the Millennium Giant for the 1960s provoked the most heated discussion of all.

Men who shared the same pitch as Alan Ball were adamant he deserved the accolade.

Those who observed the matchless grace of The Golden Vision were equally insistent about the claims of their hero.

In the end there was the Millennium Giants equivalent of a voting recount - with the almost venerated Scotsman winning the day.

During his playing peak Alex Young inspired equally passionate emotions. His hero worship on one half of Merseyside during the Swinging Sixties bordered on the hysterical.

When Harry Catterick left Young on the sidelines to blood a promising centre- forward named Joe Royle in 1966, the Everton manager was jostled in the Blackpool FC car park by his own supporters.

Brian Labone, no less, was once booed by the home crowd because he had accidentally injured Young in a training session.

So why the fuss?

In sum, Alex Young came possibly as close as any single player to embodying the essence of the Soccer School of Science.

Stats and Honours
Everton Appearances: 273
Everton Goals: 87
Football League Championship winner 1962/63
FA Cup winner 1966
Charity Shield winner 1963
Full Scotland caps: 2

He stroked the ball, rather than kicked it.

He glided across even the heaviest of surfaces, shimmying and tricking his way past clogging defenders before effortlessly floating shots past baffled goalkeepers.

A deep-lying centre-forward, he was never in the same mould as traditional Everton number nines like Dean, Lawton and Hickson, but he possessed incredible spring and could hang in the air to meet crosses before dispatching bullet headers with one flick of his blond halo.

Signed in November 1960 from Hearts for £40,000, Scotish experts reckoned Young was too inconsistent and too peripheral to cut it in England.

They were proved spectacularly wrong.

He peaked in the 1962/63 Championship side, when his striking partnership with Roy Vernon was the bane of First Division defences. Young scored 22 goals, and created countless more for his skipper, as Everton claimed their sixth League title.

He was also an integral member of the 1966 FA Cup winning side, the team which became the first to pull back a two goal deficit to win at Wembley. And Evertonians who study the video tape of that match today are still puzzled as to why he wasn't awarded a first-half penalty!

Despite suffering painfully from blistered feet throughout his playing career, Young amassed 273 appearances for Everton.

Alex YoungAlex Young

His goals return of 87 in those matches was more than respectable - but it was his almost mythical appeal, rather than mere statistical successes, which endeared him to the Everton supporters.

He left Goodison to become player-manager of Irish side Glentoran in 1968, before briefly returning to English football at Stockport County.

Three decades on his adoration amongst Evertonians is undimmed, and his occasional appearances at sporting functions on Merseyside are always packed to capacity.

More than 30-years after he last gracefully glided a ball across Goodison Park, the memory of The Golden Vision is still crystal clear amongst a legion of Blues.

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