Neville Southall

Career Stats

Everton Playing Career
1981 - 1998

Millennium Giant: 1980-1989

To be the best player in your position is the target most professional footballers aim towards.

At his best, which was most of the time throughout the 1980s, Neville Southall was the best goalkeeper in the world.

The Millennium Giants panel convened in 1999 and was swamped with candidates for the 1980s Player of the Decade.

Kevin Ratcliffe is still the most successful captain in the club's history. Graeme Sharp is the club's top Post-War marksman.

Peter Reid, Andy Gray and Gary Lineker all had their advocates, but the panel was never seriously swayed away from the claims of the single-minded goalkeeper. Southall's longevity alone between the Goodison goalposts would have earmarked him as an outstanding candidate.

He has played more matches for the club than any other player in 121 years of Everton history.

But it is his enduring excellence in those matches which have established him as an Everton legend.

"I am a firm believer that you never win trophies without an outstanding goalkeeper," said Howard Kendall.

Southall was between the posts for the most successful spell of silverware collection in the club's history.

Some of the saves he made during the trophy-laden days of the 1980s have passed into Everton folklore.

The stunning tip over from Mark Falco in the final minute of the 1985 match at Tottenham is deservedly famous, so, too, was the scrambling tip around a goalpost of Imre Varadi's effort at Sheffield Wednesday the same season - a save shown over and over again by the BBC in their opening credits to Match of the Day.

Graeme Sharp played in both those matches - and had justifiable claims himself to be named as the Millennium Giant for the 1980s.

But he was adamant that Southall should be the choice.

Like some other Millennium Giants, Southall actually had claims for inclusion in two decades.

He kept goal at Goodison for seven seasons in the 1990s, and was typically defiant in the 1995 FA Cup Final victory over Manchester United - his second FA Cup winners' medal collected 11 years after the first.

But it was in the 80s that Southall was recognised to be at the very peak of his profession.

A notorious perfectionist, his natural ability was supplemented by hours and hours spent on the training pitches at Bellefield.

During the famous 1984/85 season he was ever present and was rewarded with the selection as the Football Writers' Player of the Year.

Many pointed to his ill-timed broken ankle - sustained on international duty for Wales - as the reason the Toffees just failed in a bid to achieve an incredible double the following season.

It wasn't that understudy Bobby Mimms made any mistakes - he kept six successive clean sheets after stepping in - it was just that Southall was capable of making absolutely unbelievable stops that other goalkeepers were incapable of.

He returned after 11 matches of the following season - and Everton stormed to another Championship triumph.

Southall remained at his peak throughout the 80s and into the early 90s - but even as his powers diminished slightly with age, he still remained one of the most competent goalkeepers around until finally ending his Everton career in November 1997.