Atteveld's Backing The Blues

Everton's former Dutch player Ray Atteveld believes the Blues have got what it takes to beat another of his previous clubs Roda JC when the teams meet in Tuesday's friendly in southern Holland.

Atteveld, now 36 and assistant manager of Dutch first division side ADO Den Haag, remains a firm Evertonian and is confident David Moyes's men will prevail in Kerkrade.

"I saw Everton a couple of times last season and I was very impressed," he told

"They looked very confident and a very good side. Knowing the English standard compared to the Dutch, I think Everton will be the better team and I'm hoping the Blues win. I had a good time at Roda, but I had a better time at Everton. I'd prefer it if Everton won!"

It was Colin Harvey who began Atteveld's love affair with the Blues when he signed the utility player for £250,000 from Haarlem FC in August 1989. The Dutchman went on to make 53 appearances, scoring twice, before leaving for Bristol City in March 1992. He subsequently played for Roda in the 1993/94 season to become the only player to have represented both of Tuesday's opponents at the Parkstad Limburg stadium.

However, Atteveld, who turned out for nine clubs in all before being forced to retire through injury in 2001, insists he has no reason for mixed loyalties.

"Everton were the best club I played for - without doubt, the biggest and the best," he said. "I've got great memories of my time at Everton and I'm always looking out for their results.

"I even stay up to watch the highlights on a Saturday night. I was so nervous when they played Coventry City on the last day of the season in 1998. I couldn't do anything that day. I couldn't move from the television set!

"Since I signed for Everton, the club have always been in my heart, and that's where they will stay. I've heard people say 'Once an Evertonian, always an Evertonian', and it's so true." tracked down Atteveld as part of the website's Where Are They Now series. He might have been busy in pre-season training with Den Haag, but Tony Cottee's old room-mate was more than happy to preview what, unfortunately for the Blues, will be Everton's final game in continental Europe this calendar year.

"Like Everton, Roda narrowly missed out on European football at the end of last season," he said.

"They needed a draw in their last game against Feyenoord and got beat 3-0. It was frustrating because they were very lethargic in that game. To the fans it looked like they didn't want to play in Europe, but apparently they're really going for it this year. They are desperate to qualify for the UEFA Cup. They've got a good team, so it will be interesting to see how the game will go."

"Roda have changed their style in the past few years," he added.

"When I was there, they were like an English side, playing 3-4-3, with a lot of pressure. Now they hold back a bit and wait for the opposition to make a move. They have players who are very confident on the ball and they are good at hitting teams on the break. They play a patient game."

Atteveld also had a word for the Blues' travelling support. The club have sold their allocation of 1,000 tickets, with Evertonians eager to see their side in Europe. And the Dutchman expects them to receive a warm welcome.

"Roda fans are good fans," he said.

"Generally the people who live in the south of Holland are not troublemakers and I think Everton fans will get a good welcome. Everton fans like to see good football, they are positive fans - and the Roda fans are like that as well.

"However, Everton fans are true football supporters. They always get behind the team - not just when they are winning. In Holland it's completely different. Success is everything. You never see opposing fans applaud a winning team off the pitch after their side has suffered a defeat."

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