Michael Keane says he quickly understood the depth of Everton’s relationship with its community after joining in summer 2017.
Defender Keane revealed the Club’s Blue Family campaign, designed to maintain contact with fans through the coronavirus pandemic, is acting as a two-way street, with players receiving a substantial boost from chatting to supporters.
Keane became the latest Everton player to contact a fan when he spoke with 78-year-old Rod, who was staggered to hear from the England international soon after getting off the phone to Chairman Bill Kenwright.
Former Manchester United centre-back Keane has featured 22 times in the Premier League this season and started three of Everton's four matches immediately before the curtain came down on top-flight football.
The 27-year-old is confident Everton will continue to plot an upwards curve under Carlo Ancelotti when the action resumes.
But for now Keane recognises the Club can employ its prominent position in society to support and assist people during an unprecedented global crisis.
“[What the Club means to people] is something you learn pretty quickly,” said Keane.
“I knew within my first six months at Everton how much the fans engage with the players and how much Everton in the Community helps the fans.
“I have never been at a club which does so much for its community.
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KEANE PROVIDES BLUES INSIGHT IN SURPRISE FAN CALL
“It is brilliant and very rewarding to be part of it.
“It is great to hear the happiness in their voices [when calling supporters].
“I spoke to Rod for 20-25 minutes and he said it made his day.
“But it made my day as well – it made me happy and gave me a boost.
“It gives you a reminder of how important you can be in the community and what playing for this club means to people.
“It is a difficult time and a lot of fans might be lonely and vulnerable and a call might give them the boost they need to get through it.”
Keane is two appearances short of reaching his century in all competitions for Everton after signing from Burnley nearly three years ago.
He was excellent in games against Chelsea and Manchester United as caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson breathed fresh life into Everton’s campaign back in December.
And Keane has been encouraged by his side’s progress following the capture of esteemed Italian Ancelotti as manager, Everton claiming 18 points from 11 matches and going hammer-and-tongs at their opponents in every game save for the reverse fixture with Chelsea earlier this month.
“The manager has been fantastic, he has all the experience in the world and has won it all,” said Keane.
“His demeanour and authority is special, he instantly gained respect from everybody and rightly so.
“His training has been really good and in all the games bar against Chelsea we have been really competitive.
“I think the fans can see an improvement in us.
“We know where we want to be and that it’s not going to happen overnight – but we have the right manager to help us get there.”
In common with his teammates, Keane is following a home training programme devised by Everton’s fitness staff.
A morning run is supplemented by strength work later in the day, as players maintain conditioning during an undetermined period of time away from the Club.
“We log the sessions we’ve done on an app so the staff can monitor what we’re doing and gauge our fitness,” added Keane.
“We have been sent individual training programmes, you don’t have your normal equipment so have to improvise and do what you can.
“It is important we continue to work hard.
“The lads have been keeping in touch and making sure everyone is fit and healthy. Everyone is getting their work done.
“The main thing is looking after your family and making sure everyone stays safe and well.”
Blue Family has also seen the Club and charity introduce a referral form enabling fans and the wider public to refer people they believe might need a friendly voice to speak to at this difficult time.