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Rats Calls For Jags Support

by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

Club legend Kevin Ratcliffe says it will be important for Phil Jagielka to have wise heads around him as he looks to stamp his mark on the Everton captaincy. 

Jagielka is set to replace departed skipper Phil Neville when the Blues return for pre-season training in early July.

And Ratcliffe, the Toffees’ most successful ever captain, believes the new man in the role will be looking for his teammates to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Tim Howard and Sylvain Distin are all long-serving squad members the 30-year-old could turn to.

And asked how important that would be, Ratcliffe told evertontv: “Very important. I was definitely lucky that I had good characters in the side when I was captain.

“I had a goalkeeper who was No.1 in the world at the time [Neville Southall] and a midfield player who represented his county in Peter Reid, who was phenomenal. Sharpy and Andy Gray upfront were strong characters and there wasn’t really a weak head in that side.

“And the good thing was if I wasn’t doing it, one of them would be pointing their finger. And I think you need that.

“You need someone to tell you when you’re not doing it to get your backside into gear, and I’m sure Phil’s got those people around him.”

At 30, Jagielka takes over the captaincy with 13 years of experience and 18 international caps behind him.

Incredibly, Ratcliffe was eight years younger when he was first thrown the armband by Howard Kendall - and he recalls wondering why he had being selected over so many senior men around him.

“The first time I was captain was against Dundee United. We were up there on a little bit of a tour in pre-season and Mark Higgins wasn’t playing for some reason or another,” he explained. “I was in the room and Howard just threw me the ball and said lead them out Kev and it was exactly the same feeling I had when I was captain of Wales a couple of months later.

“I was looking around the room and I see David Johnson, Peter Eastoe, Alan Ainscow and Mickey Walsh, and I’m looking around and thinking why me? These lads are a good three or four years older than me.

“Obviously the manager had some faith in me at the age to be a captain.”

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