Godfrey On His Love For Everton And COVID Fight

Ben Godfrey has set his sights on helping Everton achieve "big ambitions" after overcoming a battle with COVID-19 that left him feeling like he was playing matches "in someone else's body".

The Everton defender tested positive for coronavirus two days prior to the beginning of the 2021/22 season and consequently missed the opening four games of the campaign.

Godfrey returned to the starting line-up for the 3-1 win over Burnley last month - but has revealed only now does he feel like he's getting back to 100-per-cent fitness.

"It was horrendous," the 23-year-old told evertontv. "The timing of it was frustrating, especially knowing the fans were back in the stadium as well.  

"For me, the recovery side of it was tough. 

"The first couple of games back were awful - my breathing and I found myself fatiguing really early on in games, even after a single sprint when normally I'd back myself to be up and down.

"I'd be blowing in the first few minutes - it was mad... You can't describe it unless you've experienced it.

"It was like you had someone else's body. I'd make a sprint and it'd feel like I'd played 88 minutes, even though it was five minutes into a game.

"The past couple of games I've felt a lot better and more or less back to myself now, which has been good. 

"The Club and the staff have been brilliant with me in helping me get over that hurdle."

After three consecutive home wins to begin the new term, the Blues were dealt a blow on Sunday when Angelo Ogbonna struck the only goal of the game to earn West Ham victory at Goodison Park.

The day marked exactly 12 months since Godfrey made his debut for the Club - following a 2020 summer move from Norwich City - in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool on home soil.

Ben Godfrey
My year here has flown by and I've absolutely loved every second of it. I hope there are many more years to come.

Reflecting on his first calendar year with the Toffees, in which he landed Everton's Young Player of the Season Award for 2020/21, Godfrey believes he is in the perfect place.

"It's flown by," he said. "I've absolutely loved every second of it. It's mad that's it's been a year - I can't believe that. But, yes, I've really enjoyed it and I hope there are many more years to come.

"It's a great club to be part of. We have great lads in the dressing room and everyone around me is here to help me learn. I'm really enjoying my football here and I'm sure every player would tell you the same.

"It's been a good year for me."

In that aforementioned Merseyside derby, Godfrey was deployed as a right-back after Seamus Coleman was withdrawn in the first half with an injury.

He has once again deputised for the captain while absent this season, but returned to a more familiar central role in the reverse against the Hammers.

While happy to return to his favoured position, Godfrey's thoughts were mostly occupied by what could have been on Sunday.

"Of course I enjoyed playing back at centre-half," he added. "I have had a spell at right-back while Seamus has been out, which I don't mind doing, but, overall, I'm just disappointed about the result. 

"As a defender I would have loved a clean sheet and three points but it wasn't to be.

"Obviously, West Ham are a good team and it was a tight game that could have gone either way. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of it and it's important we regroup now and go again.

"We're back at Goodison next weekend. The games always come around quick and it's that's good, to be honest. 

"After a game like Sunday, all you want to do is get back out and put things right... I know it's a cliché thing to say but it's true.

"We go home and it's hard not to think about what we could have done differently. It's natural. 

"But we're a positive group and we'll stick together. We want to bounce back like we've done many times before."

The ability of this Everton side to respond to setbacks has been evident since the arrival of manager Rafa Benitez, with the Blues winning seven points from losing positions in games.

They also responded positively to their first loss of the season against Aston Villa by following up with a win over Norwich City and impressive point at Manchester United.

Now Godfrey is hoping the Blues can show their resolve once more when Claudio Ranieri's Watford visit Merseyside on Saturday.

"It's important to do that," insisted Godfrey. "When you lose games it's important that you don't go under for a couple of weeks because if we want to go to the places we want to go to, we can't afford to be doing that.

"You have to learn from it, put it to one side and then go again. 

"We've got big ambitions. Everyone here has - from the fans to the players and staff. 

"That's the mentality we have to have."