Ray Atteveld is always happy to reminisce about his time as an Everton player.
He was signed by Colin Harvey in 1989 as the Blues tried to build a squad capable of emulating the feats of a team that had won two league titles but which was beginning to.
It was Terry Darracott's recommendation that led to the Dutchman joining the Toffees.
“Terry was the guy who spotted me for Everton when I was playing for Haarlem," recalls Atteveld.
“I always have happy thoughts when I think of Everton – it’s one of the teams that you keep following in your career – so when I bumped into Terry recently we started talking about the Everton days. We went through the team as I wanted to know where they are now. I know that Ian Snodin is doing some radio and Graeme Sharp is the liaison officer.
“A couple of times a year I am in touch with Ray Hall, the Academy manager. And I get some comments from Kevin Sheedy that I still owe him money and have to pay him back! It’s good to hear because it’s guys you played with and you’re interested in where they are now.”
Now in management, Atteveld has ambitions to make it to the top as a boss - having impressed in the early stages of his managerial career with Roda in the Dutch Eredivise.
“I think every trainer is ambitious and you always want to achieve the highest that is possible for you. Most of the time you don’t know where that is when you start. I’m looking to see where my top level is."
Atteveld was one of Everton’s first foreigners, arriving shortly after Swedish midfielder Stefan Rehn in the summer of ’89. The Dutchman doesn’t hesitate when asked if he enjoyed his time on Merseyside.
“Oh, yes. Thoroughly, thoroughly. I came from a small club in Holland (Haarlem) to one of the five biggest clubs in England; it was a dream come true and I still feel the same way about it.
“I think it was more difficult for Stefan because he was a different type of player. They said in Holland that I played a similar way to the English game. I think the squad picked me up reasonably well; they took me by the hand and led me through it.
“It took me a while to get in the team under Colin but that was because there was a big difference between the continental game and English game, concerning pace and attitude. I took my time but I was quite happy to get in the team.
“I signed on the same day as Norman Whiteside and he was a magnificent player. Kevin Ratcliffe, Dave Watson and Kevin Sheedy spoke a lot to the young players and tried to help you. Because I was right–back I spoke a lot to Neville Southall. They are things I will always remember. It was only because the manager changed that I had to leave.”
Howard Kendall’s second coming in late 1990 was the beginning of the end for Atteveld at Everton but it would be 1992 before he left, joining West Ham for the briefest of loan spells and then moving on to Bristol City. By 1993 he was back in Holland. He picks out two occasions from 1991 as particular highlights of his Blues’ career.
“One of the games that stands out is the 4–4 against Liverpool. It wasn’t one of my best but it was a quite hilarious game. We were four times down but we still got back in it and won the replay. I didn’t play in the replay because I was quite awful in the four–all.
“Another thing that is still in my mind is the Zenith Data Systems Cup final at Wembley [against Crystal Palace]. I was not in the team at the time but I was there with the squad. That was new to me.”
Evertonians may remember him for an unusual act at the conclusion of the final game of the 1989/90 season, a 3–3 draw with Aston Villa at Goodison. Atteveld stripped off to the briefest of briefs. He explained that a certain Welsh goalkeeper prompted his actions.
“Neville [Southall] came up to me and said ‘It’s my last game; I’m going to throw all my kit in the stand. Are you joining me?’ I said ‘Yeah, of course, no problem.’
“I had problems sticking to the rest of my clothes. I went off the pitch with my underpants and that was it! But it was Neville who initiated it.”