Nev's Captaincy Doubts
Ex-skipper on why he feared he wasn't the right man for the job.
Phil Neville has admitted he was daunted by the prospect of taking over as Everton captain - and even feared he might not have been the right man for the job.
Neville was speaking as part of evertontv’s special series of exclusive interviews with Club skippers past and present.
A summer arrival from Manchester United two years earlier, Neville was handed the armband by manager David Moyes following David Weir’s exit to Rangers in January 2007.
He subsequently led the team to four top-six finishes in six-and-a-half seasons, never ending a campaign lower than eighth.
Yet Neville, who last month said farewell to Goodison Park after eight years with the Club, confesses he was initially wracked with doubts about his suitability for the role.
“I can say it now - I didn't want it,” he said. “I'd just come into the Club and I wanted to establish myself as a player and a person first, and then the manager just gave me the captaincy and it was like, 'Wow, I'm in at the deep end'.
“It was a moment when you either sink or swim and I think the faith he put in me helped me as a person and helped me grow.
“I was coming into a dressing room with big characters who had been successful. They'd qualified for the Champions League - that's something I've never done [in my time at the Club].
“From a purely selfish point of view, I felt that I hadn't won the supporters over, I hadn't won the players over in the dressing room, so I felt that I was trying to take baby steps. But the manager, with his drive and his determination and his foresight, he wanted it there and then.”
Reticent initially, Neville quickly grew to relish the role and became not only a respected and revered captain but an admired and valued Club ambassador.
In the dressing room, he cultivated an ‘all for one’ mentality, one his teammates credited for countless points and hard-fought wins.
And it is that element of leading Everton the departing 36-year-old says he will now miss the most.
He said: “I've had some unbelievable moments on the football pitch. My debut against Villarreal, for example. It was that moment that I realised I was playing for a big, top club.
“But I think it's the memories off the field that I'll remember most. The camaraderie in the dressing room, the camaraderie with the staff, the kit men, the masseurs, the physios - they've helped me personally so much those people, and not just in terms of football.”
To discover Neville’s favourite Everton moments, why he thinks gaining the captaincy was ultimately the best things that could have happened, and why he will forever remain an Evertonian at heart, watch the video above*.
Look out for further interviews in the coming days, including Kevin Ratcliffe, Alan Stubbs, David Weir and Phil Jagielka.
*Please note, if you are using the Official Everton App, please navigate to the ‘video’ section.