'I'm Blue Forever And No-One Can Take That Away'

Last month, 1995 FA Cup semi-final hero Daniel Amokachi was a very special guest at Goodison Park for the Premier League visit of Bournemouth. 

However, as well as heading back to his old stomping ground, the charismatic Nigerian paid a visit to the Club’s training ground to catch up with former Everton colleagues David Unsworth and John Ebbrell, as well as the man who led the Toffees to cup glory at Wembley, Joe Royle. 

The three teammates reminisced about their memories of a whirlwind first season under Royle as they narrowly avoided relegation before overcoming Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to win silverware, and talked about the camaraderie that was the bedrock of the Blues’ mid-1990s success. 

Royle, meanwhile, recalled that famous Amokachi-inspired last-four victory over Spurs at Elland Road and what he still says is the greatest substitution he never made. 

Watch the exclusive extended video above to hear what all four men had to say about each other as they were reunited over two decades on. 

Alternatively, read some of the highlights of Amokachi’s meeting with Unsworth and Ebbrell below.


Daniel, what’s it like to be back at the Club with two of your teammates from a memorable chapter in Everton’s proud history?

Daniel Amokachi: It’s a chance to be back with some family. Once a Blue, always a Blue, isn’t it? You can see with the gaffer, Joe Royle, still being here, these two being here, a lot of the players we played with in our era are still part of the Club and so it’s good to be here once more.
What are your first memories of Daniel from when he joined in August 1994?
David Unsworth: My first memories are of the first goal he scored, against QPR at Goodison on his home debut. He kept telling us he had this strange dance that he did to celebrate a goal. I remember he scored at the Park End and I jumped on his back and he couldn’t do the dance. He was like, ‘Get off, get off!’ He couldn’t do the dance but we saw it a few more times after that.
John Ebbrell: Just him being in and around the dressing room. Daniel was a brilliant fit for us at the time - he was full of life, great fun, with a big beaming smile. He fitted in straight away, he was great for banter and you could pull his leg and he’d pull ours. He was just brilliant around the lads.

You were all part of that Everton team in 1994/95 when we were at the bottom of the league. Then Joe Royle took over as manager and there was a huge turnaround in form.
DU: It was a huge improvement. We went on a great cup run and our league form improved, as well. One thing that stood out was not just the fact we escaped relegation and won the FA Cup but the team spirit - and I say it to young players now – was the best I’ve ever experienced. In the dressing room we were all great friends and seeing Amo today, it’s like 20 years ago. He just fits straight in with the banter like we used to have. Any successful team needs that team spirit and the big guy was certainly a part of that.
DA: I say always that when you look at it, it’s not just on the field, it’s off the pitch. Every players’ home was open to teammates. Unsy invited me to his house like one million times and I have incredible memories. If you have that spirit in a team then you should be very successful. When Joe came in he told him [Unsy] what he wanted and we saw more of him as a player and what he could do. The confidence he had in swinging crosses in, those set pieces - he took the team to the next level and ‘Baldy’ [Ebbrell], he was incredible in the middle. His energy was second to none.
JE: I thought Unsy would be the strongest player I’d ever play with but Daniel was the strongest. If you ever went alongside him, he had the strongest shoulder charge I’ve ever, ever experienced. I’m not sure it would be legal any more but it worked!


What was it like in training every day?

DU: Really tough. There was Daniel, Duncan - Paul Rideout was very physical as well so, yes, it was a tough time. But Daniel was a great player and gave us a different dimension, pace and power. His partnership with Duncan, Paul Rideout, Graham Stuart - we had loads of forward options at that time and it was a great team to be in.
Daniel, you’re now technical director at Finnish side JS Hercules. Would you have guessed all three of you would go on to become coaches?

DA: I always said I wouldn’t be a coach because I could see the stress my coaches were under. It’s not just managing one player - it’s managing 20-plus players. Now it’s easier because you have more technical staff and people around to make life easier. But it’s because of the love we have for football that we’re still in it, that’s the most beautiful thing about it.
DU: What I will say is when you’ve had the people who we’ve had and who we’ve worked for, the likes of Willie Donachie and Joe Royle, you can’t help but pick up good traits from them. Joe is the finest manager I’ve worked under, without a doubt.
We’re back in Europe this season, which you achieved together at Everton. And in the 3-2 win at Reykjavik in September 1995 you all scored!
DU: How boring are you telling us that!
DA: I scored a sexy goal!
JE: He’s looking at me because it’s the biggest shock that I scored!


What are your favourite games from that era?
JE: The FA Cup semi-final. That was one great performance and, obviously, Daniel was a massive part of that. I’m not sure he was meant to be going on but I don’t care. It was a magnificent performance and you still see pictures of it now, great pictures of an amazing day and probably Daniel’s pinnacle?
DA: Yeah, definitely. In England, playing for Everton, that was the game. My first game at home at Goodison when I scored and the semi-final. Growing up as an African in Africa, it’s the FA Cup that we know. To be part of that history, to help a team win the trophy, it definitely goes a long way.
DU: Did you know that you weren’t supposed to be going on?

DA: When Joe said I should warm up, automatically for me I just felt I should go on because I saw Paul [Rideout] had gone down injured. The clock was ticking so I told Jimmy [Gabriel], the reserve coach, “Come on, I’m going on.” I just gave the paper to the assistant ref and I was on. If you watch the video you can see how Joe stood up. I just looked back at him, fixed my collar and said, “I’m gone.”
What does it mean to the three of you that Evertonians will always look back and remember that FA Cup win?

DU: That’s why you play football. We all play football to win trophies and have memories. Again, to quote Joe Royle, rocking chair memories. When you’re old and you sit back and you think back on your football career, you’ll remember games like that Amo semi-final, as we call it. There’s so much pride you feel with being a part of this wonderful football club.

JE: Absolutely, and we want those days back. That’s what we’re all aspiring to do at the football club. But that was a great time. It was a great couple of performances, really. To beat Tottenham and then Manchester United was fantastic but actually fitting for that group of players at that time - a fitting reward. They’re good memories.
DA: As I said earlier, once a Blue, always a Blue. It’s strange when I tell people I only played here for two seasons. It doesn’t make sense almost when you played for only two seasons and you still get this much love from the Evertonians. It’s incredible. The love that I have for them and they have for me is second-to-none and that’s the most beautiful thing about it. That’s why we’re here now. I’m not wearing the badge today but I’m a blue forever and nobody can take that away from me.

JE: How much bad gear did you wear in those two seasons? Flamboyant colour!
DA: I brought fashion into the team. Duncan brought madness, I brought fashion!

A version of the above video first appeared on The Everton Show, which airs on Made In Liverpool (Sky channel 117, Freeview 7 and Virgin 159) and Made In North Wales (Freeview channel 8) from 7pm every Friday.

Supporters across the globe can then watch the full programme on demand via YouTube and evertonfc.com from 7.30pm. 

If you live outside of the Made In Liverpool or Made In North Wales broadcast regions but have access to a Sky box, find out how you can add the channels here.

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