Derby Heroes: Kevin Sheedy
We start our series with the set-piece specialist.
The Merseyside derby is just around the corner and we begin the build-up to the 221st meeting between Everton and Liverpool by looking at the men in Blue that have made significant contributions in this famous old fixture.
First we profile Kevin Sheedy, a veteran of 21 matches against our neighbours from Anfield.
Sheedy played 369 times for Everton and scored just shy of a century of goals – 97 to be exact.
During his decade at Goodison Park, he won three major domestic honours – the Division One Championship in 1984/85 and 1986/87, and the FA Cup in 1984. He also assisted in the European Cup Winners’ Cup success in 1985 and, indeed, netted in the 3-1 triumph over Rapid Vienna in Rotterdam.
Sheedy’s wand of a left-foot made him one of the most dangerous wingers of his era. He could pass a ball with precision and shoot with just as much deadly accuracy.
His performances during that trophy-laden period for Everton twice saw him named in the PFA Team of the Year, both in 1984/85 and 1986/87.
Sheedy left Everton in 1992 to wind down his career at Newcastle United and Blackpool. He then worked in the backroom setup at Tranmere Rovers and Hartlepool before returning to Goodison after a 14-year absence in 2006 to take up a position within the Blues’ academy.
As Under-18s coach, working alongside another Blues idol Duncan Ferguson, he has enjoyed great success in helping several players – including Ross Barkley – progress to the first-team frame.
He took time out of his role to fight bowel cancer in August 2012 and after winning his battle with the disease, he was soon back in the dugout watching his scholars win football matches.
Under Sheedy’s tutelage, the Club’s youth side last year excelled to reach the end-of-season knockout round of the league and so far this term have emerged victorious in nine of their last 10 matches, including a 5-0 win over Wolves last weekend.
ACROSS STANLEY PARK
Sheedy started his career with Hereford United before making the switch to Liverpool in 1977. Opportunities proved very limited at Anfield and after just a handful of appearances, he ended his five-year stay with the club by joining Everton for a fee of £100,000. In making the transfer, he became the first player to swap a red shirt for a blue one since Johnny Morrissey 20 years earlier.
For Everton, Sheedy played in 21 Merseyside derbies. His most memorable contribution in games against Liverpool came in April 1987 when he unleashed a thunderbolt of a free-kick and proceeded to celebrate his net-busting strike with an infamous gesture to the Kop. You can view the goal on YouTube by clicking here.
Ask Blues fans about Sheedy and they will undoubtedly recall his deadball qualities, often citing a particular FA cup quarter-final at home to Ipswich Town in 1985.
Against the Tractor Boys, he bent an inch-perfect first-half free-kick past goalkeeper Paul Cooper. Referee Alan Robinson ordered a retake and Sheedy, with the minimum of fuss, simply placed the ball back on the turf and curled it into the opposite corner.
The former Republic of Ireland international attributes this ability to hard work on the training ground.
“I practiced a lot,” Sheedy explains. “I say to the young lads now that you can’t just expect to turn up on a Saturday and stick the ball in the top corner. David Beckham is an example – he practiced every day and the proof is in the pudding.
“I practiced and got myself comfortable so from whatever side of the box and whatever distance I was more than capable of scoring.”
For the best part of a decade, Sheedy supplied the bullets for Graeme Sharp to fire. The former Scotland striker netted 159 goals for Everton, making him the Club’s leading post-war goalscorer.
“I think if you ask anyone who played with Sheeds, they would say that they owe him a debt of gratitude for the service,” Sharp says of his former teammate. “He had a wonderful left foot and although he wasn’t the quickest or the best defensively, you knew you were going to get a shift from him.
“I’d played against Kevin before in reserve games against Liverpool and I knew what a talented footballer he was but it wasn’t until he came here that I realised just how much quality he had.
“We developed an understanding and as soon as Kevin took a touch on the ball and looked up I would make my run. Nine times out of 10 he would find me. As soon as he got it on his left foot you knew he was going to deliver a diagonal or whip one in to the near post.
“Everyone remembers his free-kicks, not just the goals but the crosses he provided into the box. One that springs to mind was the semi-final against Luton in the FA Cup at Villa Park when he knocked one on Derek Mountfield’s head.
“In the modern day, you look at Leighton Baines with his set-pieces and he is very similar to Kevin.”
WORLD CUP STAR
Despite being born in Wales, Sheedy was capped 46 times for the Republic of Ireland after qualifying for eligibility through his father who was from County Clare.
He netted nine international goals, one of which was in the 1-1 draw with England at Italia’ 90. In beating Peter Shilton, he became the first player to score for his country at a World Cup finals. Republic of Ireland reached the last-eight of that year’s tournament where they exited at the quarter-final stage to the host nation.
Two years earlier, Sheedy had also been part of the Republic of Ireland squad that failed to make it out of the group stage at Euro ’88 in West Germany.
Rob State - "Where do you start? There are that many memories. The Luton semi-final in 1985, though - what a feeling when that went in!"
Mark Delahay - "The word legend is used far too often these days for players that are just good or have had a good couple of seasons. The word legend should be reserved for players of Sheedy’s ilk only. What a player – I grew up watching him play in the 80s. I have great memories and really wish we could re-live those days again."
Barry Punct Si Atat - "He scored in the first ever match I attended at Goodison, a 2-0 win over Man City in 1991. He was a quality player."
Kevin Foran – "One of my favourite memories was the free-kick that he had to retake in the FA Cup against Ipswich and, of course, that famous goal he got against England in the World Cup. What a player - I used to model myself on him when I played football. The man’s a legend in my eyes. Sheedy! Sheedy!"