Tony Hibbert has lauded teammate and long-time friend Leon Osman - declaring the midfielder one of the best players he has shared a pitch with during his time at Goodison Park.
Osman’s long-standing service to Everton Football Club will be celebrated this Sunday when the Blues play host to FC Porto in his testimonial.
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He is currently joint 16th with Colin Harvey on the Toffees' list of all-time appearance makers having turned out 388 times since his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in January 2003.
If last season’s form is anything to by - Osman was involved in every one of the Blues' 38 Barclays Premier League games - he could move into the list’s top 10 during the coming campaign.
And his 54 goals and consistent performances over an 11-year period have not gone unnoticed by colleagues - including fellow Academy graduate Hibbert.
“He is one of the best players I've played with,” the defender told evertontv. “Off the field, he is down to earth and up for a laugh, but on the pitch he is unbelievable.
“He will always give 100 per cent and his footballing brain is fantastic. He just hasn’t changed from being a kid to where he is now. He is a joy to watch.
“His feet are unbelievable and he has always had that ability to take anyone on. His passing is outstanding. When you saw him as a kid, you always knew he was going to make it.”
The pair first played senior football together in April 2003 but Hibbert has considered the now 33-year-old a close friend ever since they joined Everton's Academy as youngsters.
“When we were kids there was a big group of us,” he explained. “But with the way we get on together, he has always been a part of me and been a close friend of mine.”
Hibbert, who netted his first goal in an Everton shirt during his own testimonial two years ago, is now aiming to double his tally on Sunday after Osman recently suggested he would be putting the right-back on set-piece duty.
He added: “It’s Leon’s day and he deserves it. But if he wants me to take penalties or free-kicks then I’m happy to do that for him!”
Osman has selected to split all proceeds from the match between children’s charities Claire House and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
You can celebrate Osman’s Everton career this Sunday as the Blues take on FC Porto in the midfielder’s testimonial at Goodison Park. To purchase tickets, click here or call 0871 663 1878.
Alternatively, visit the Park End Box Office at Goodison Park or Everton Two in Liverpool One.