Everton Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the Club’s exceptional former midfielder Jimmy Gabriel.
A league championship and FA Cup winner at Goodison Park following a transfer from Dundee in 1960, Gabriel – who would declare long after retirement the Club was “in my blood” – scored 37 goals in 303 appearances during seven years as an Everton player.
He returned to the Club as assistant to manager and ex-teammate Colin Harvey in 1990 and subsequently took charge of Everton’s reserve team.
Gabriel twice assumed the position of caretaker manager, overseeing one match – a 3-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers – in November 1990, and seven games across December 1993 and January 1994.
Everton Chairman, Bill Kenwright, paid tribute to “truly one of the Club’s greats”.
“‘The Angel’ Gabriel was one of my first real heroes,” he said. “He joined Everton in the first chapter of our “Millionaires” period soon after Sir John had taken charge of the Club. Very quickly he became a tough-tackling inspirational right-half, forming a terrific no-nonsense partnership with Bryan Harris on the left.
“He was the type of lad who could and would play anywhere, and I will never forget the first time when - out of necessity – he played up front and instantly looked like a real Everton centre-forward. I remember thinking we’ve found our new Dave Hickson!!! He was fearless… and terrifying to the opposition.
“Many of us were saddened when he moved back to play in midfield…but wherever he played he always gave his all and is truly one of the Club’s greats.
“He was a quiet, humble man off the pitch and I’m honoured that I got to know him personally when he re-joined the Blues as Colin Harvey’s assistant in the early 1990s.
“Footballers come and go at clubs… but at Everton we have many who seem to have been there forever… Jimmy Gabriel was one of those. Always a Blue, he told me… and always a legend to those lucky enough to have witnessed his dedication and commitment to the blue shirt…”
Born in Dundee in October 1940, Gabriel started with his hometown club and was twice capped by Scotland.
He was an integral member of the Harry Catterick-led Everton team that won the Club’s sixth league title in 1962/63, playing 40 of 42 matches and scoring five goals.
Gabriel was in manager Catterick’s side when Everton produced one of the greatest of all FA Cup final comebacks, overturning a 2-0 deficit to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in 1966.
He left for Southampton 12 months later and had five years with the south coast team before playing for Bournemouth, Swindon Town and Brentford.
Gabriel moved to the United States in 1979 to play for and coach Seattle and, for a short period, indoor team San Jose Earthquakes.
His first coaching post in England was back with Bournemouth for four years before the offer from then manager Harvey to switch to Goodison.
Gabriel’s second stay with Everton lasted seven years and ended in 1997 when he left for Seattle where he worked in various coaching roles and settled with wife Pat.
Talking about his affection for Everton in 2009, Gabriel said: “Everton is in your blood – that’s what happens when you play for them.
“Of course, I think about Southampton at times, because I had five years there, but Everton was my big club. It’s where I won the league and the FA Cup.
“I’m enjoying life here [Seattle] but there is always a part of you that misses home. When the season starts… I really miss that.
“It was always a great thrill; yes you see it on television but it’s not the same. Nothing beats going to Goodison.”