Lonergan: My 'Whirlwind' Everton Move

Andy Lonergan wants to make a strong impression on his new manager and teammates after rushing from a family camping holiday to complete a “whirlwind” move to Everton.

Everton sounded out Lonergan when it became clear Joao Virginia would spend this season on loan with Sporting CP in Portugal.

Englishman Lonergan signed within 48 hours of learning of the Club’s interest and, after travelling with the squad for last Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Leeds United. was stunned to receive a personal welcome from Rafa Benitez.

Lonergan insists the immediate objective is to prove his quality, with additional focus on pushing the frontline pair of Jordan Pickford and Asmir Begovic, who the new man considers “one of the best people I have met”.

“It [joining Everton] was a whirlwind for me,” Lonergan told evertontv.

“I’d gone camping with my family, something we'd not done before, so was in the Cotswolds on Wednesday, and I had a missed call.

“I called [goalkeeper coach] Alan Kelly and within 24 hours it was agreed – then I dashed back and signed on the Friday.

“If a club like this comes, a great club in the Premier League, it is a no-brainer.

“No one here [players] really knows me, so I have to make an impression.

“I want people to say, ‘He is a good goalkeeper’.

"I have standards I want to set and the role I am in – we have England’s number one, we have Asmir who is a great goalkeeper – you have to try to push them to be better, which is, hopefully, what I can do.”

Lonergan played 231 matches for first club Preston North End following a debut aged 16, leaving after a decade to join Leeds in 2011.

He subsequently played for a number of clubs, including Bolton Wanderers and Fulham, and was with West Bromwich Albion for the second half of last season.

Andy Lonergan
If a club like this comes, a great club in the Premier League, it is a no-brainer.

The former England Under-20 keeper joins current Three Lions first-choice Pickford and ex-Chelsea player Begovic at Goodison Park – that trio overseen by Kelly, who was in the first Preston team watched by boyhood supporter Lonergan.

“The first thing you look at [joining a new club] is the goalkeeper coach and group of goalkeepers and you want to add to it,” said Lonergan.

“It is great to be working with that quality.

“Asmir is one of the best people I have met.

"I have known him six days and he has been brilliant, what a guy.

“Jordan is a proper good lad, we have good sessions and good craic, but we work hard and that is what is important.

“Kells’ CV speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

“He’s a great guy and works hard, you can have a chat with him about whatever you want.

“And, most importantly, he‘s a great goalkeeper coach.”

Lonergan was linked with a move to Everton a decade ago only to eventually complete his transfer to Leeds.

The move fell down, revealed Lonergan, when the two clubs didn’t settle on a fee.

Andy Lonergan
Asmir is one of the best people I have met. I have known him six days and he has been brilliant, what a guy.

But he’s adopting a better-late-than-never mindset – and keen to share in a fruitful campaign following a surprise chat with Benitez on the day Lonergan joined.

“He welcomed me on Friday morning when I came, then, after the meeting on Friday night in the hotel, he pulled me aside and had a chat with me,” said Lonergan.

“That is something people might think is quite common but in football it doesn’t really happen.

“For a guy of his stature to speak to me on a personal level was fantastic.

“I am looking forward to learning and listening to everything he has to say.

“The goal is to be successful and win as many games as we can.

“And, personally, to support everyone and, if needed, be ready and try to keep the level up.

“I’ve played a lot of football, not much over recent years, but as you get older your role changes and I think I can bring something to the dressing room.

“I train hard and love training and being around a successful group and, hopefully, we can be that this season."