Kevin Ratcliffe

Kevin Ratcliffe

Everton Giant 2003

By the age of 24, Kevin had already become Everton's most successful skipper, leading the Toffees to the FA Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup, Charity Shield and the League Championship and more was to follow.

Another league title in 1987 and runners-up spots in the FA Cup and the league in 1986 marked Ratcliffe out as a man to be reckoned with among his contemporaries.

Everton took him on as an apprentice in June 1977 after playing at Under-15 and Under-18 levels and within 18 months he had signed on as a professional.

He made his debut as a 19-year-old against Manchester United at Old Trafford, successfully shackling Joe Jordan, as the Blues carved out a well-earned 0-0 draw, but his first-team appearances after that were sporadic and often at left-back...and Kevin preferred to operate in the middle.

Ratcliffe's early years at the club were unsettled. He was on the verge of signing for Ipswich Town after Bobby Robson expressed an interest in him and unhappy with being made to play in the an unfamiliar full-back position.

No less a judge of a player than Bobby Robson was rumoured to be interested in taking Kevin to Ipswich Town in 1981 but thankfully, no deal was reached.

Stats and Honours
Everton Career: 1980-91
Appearances: 493
Goals: 2
FA Cup: 1984
League Championship 1985 and 1987
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1985
Charity Shield: 1984, 1985, 1987, shared 1986
Wales Caps:

'Rats' wasn't happy though and after being dropped from the team for a home match with Birmingham City in 1982 he handed in a transfer request.

After Howard Kendall reluctantly agreed to put it his name on the market, Ratcliffe found there was no need to move as he replaced Billy Wright at the heart of Everton's defence and formed a superb partnership with Mark Higgins and later Derek Mountfield.

He was appointed club captain in December 1983 and three months later took over the same role with his country, winning a total of 58 caps for Wales.

Blistering pace and a remarkable reading of the game enabled Kevin Ratcliffe to become one of the best (if not THE best) central defenders in the country. Add strength, bravery, the skills of leadership and a ferocious tackling ability to these attributes and you've got the complete defender.

Rats Cup FinalKevin Ratcliffe at the 1984 FA Cup Final

The Everton supporters took reassurance from his very presence on the field as the club conquered every challenge that lay in his path.

By his own admission, he was certainly no goalscorer, but with a typical sense of occasion he still managed to ensure that one of his two goals would be remembered forever - 40-yarder against Liverpool at Anfield!

Ratcliffe eventually severed his Everton links in the spring of 1992, but his place in any Goodison Hall of Fame had long since been assured.

He concluded his playing career with spells at Dundee, Cardiff, Nottingham Forest, Derby and Chester City.

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