A series of first-hand accounts describing moments that made us fall in love with Everton, 'My Everton' is a weekly offering here on evertonfc.com, bringing you the most-treasured memories of fans, players, and staff, both past and present.
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I was a really happy kid growing up in Nigeria. I have five brothers and three sisters and we didn’t have money for toys but I didn’t care.
I had a football and that was a big thing for anybody in my region. If I could play football, it was all I needed. Nothing fazed me, not moving to Europe when I was 17, nor adapting to new countries and new languages. I embraced every new experience and adventure.
The only time I ever felt down was when injuries prevented me from playing my football.
But in 2008, I had the biggest shock of my life. My brother, Norum, was going home from a nightclub when he was taken by kidnappers.
He was held hostage for 12 days. It was a terrible ordeal for our family and affected me a lot.
I mention this because it is the period of my life that best explains why my love for Everton is immeasurable.
The Club did everything possible to support me and every one of my teammates rallied round.
The Chairman, Bill Kenwright, was regularly on the phone, and so was the gaffer, David Moyes.
Everton are there for you.
When you join, you become part of a family. The players and coaching staff and backroom staff make you feel you belong.
I was coming from a different country and everyone opened their arms to welcome and support me.
The Evertonians were incredible and so kind to me. Nothing in football compared to playing at Goodison Park when our fans were really fired up.
I felt at home straightaway and it was by far the quickest I ever settled at a club.
The funny thing is, I had a lot of options after the 2002 World Cup with Nigeria and didn’t originally consider Everton. I expected to join Juventus.
My agent said we should meet with David Moyes. Even then, my first thought was maybe Everton could be a perfect stepping stone to a Champions League club.
I grew up in Africa, remember, so didn’t have a full appreciation of the scale of the Club.
When I walked round Goodison with the gaffer, my feelings instantly started to change.
I knew this was going to be good and, on the spot, made the decision I was going to stay.
It was like meeting your wife and realising this is the person you want to spend your life with.
It was love at first sight.
There was speculation I wanted to leave when Wayne Rooney was sold in 2004. I promise, that was never the case. I loved Everton so much and didn’t want such an end.
I spoke with the Chairman and told him I loved Everton… but was disappointed our best player was leaving, that I thought I was there to help build the Club and get us into Europe.
He told me the plans were still on and he was right – we finished fourth the next season, after I extended my contract.
I was with Everton for eight years – and would have stayed longer if I was playing more regularly.
It was easy leaving other clubs but saying goodbye to Everton was sad, a terrible moment for me.
It was painful but I was driven by me being me and needing to play.
My heart stayed at Goodison Park. You have to feel it, to be able to talk about it.
I am so proud I played for this extraordinary club and to call myself an Evertonian today.
By Joseph Yobo, former Everton defender