Our latest Bred a Blue podcast guest, Jake Bidwell, is still the youngest player to ever make a European appearance for Everton.
David Moyes handed him a start against BATE Borisov in the UEFA Cup tie at Goodison Park in December 2009 when Bidwell was just 16 years old and 271 days.
Indeed, only Thierry Small, Jose Baxter and - by just 24 hours - James Vaughan have been younger when playing for the senior team in any competition.
“I went in the day before the game expecting to train as normal and then got the shout that I was playing,” he told the Official Everton Podcast.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind, but I remember going through set-pieces in training.
“Leighton Baines and Tony Hibbert told me to just relax and enjoy my game. I was so young that I didn’t really understand the magnitude of it and I just wanted to get out there and do the best I could.”
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In Bred a Blue Bidwell speaks about he started off at Everton as a goalkeeper, how he played against Danny Welbeck when he was still at school, and how he just wanted to go home to bed after his first senior team training session because he was so tired!
After that European night, further senior run-outs proved elusive and, by his own admission, he was never really likely to oust Leighton Baines and so took the decision to go to Brentford on loan when he was 18.
“It would have been difficult for anyone to get Bainesy out, let alone me,” said Bidwell. “I agreed to go to Brentford and then I asked ‘where is it’ because I had no idea! I went for six months and ended up playing more than 200 games for them in five years.
“There was no role for me at Everton but I had become an important player for Brentford and was playing week-in, week-out so I didn’t want to go back to play reserve team football.”
From Brentford, Bidwell moved to Queens Park Rangers, although despite racking up more than 100 appearances for them across three seasons he says ‘that one didn’t work out as well.’
His next port of call, Swansea City, was far more enjoyable.
“I loved it there and can’t speak highly enough of the place or the city. It’s a one-club city and everyone wants the team to do well. We had two play-off campaigns but just couldn’t get over the line.”
Despite not turning 30 until March of this year, Jake Bidwell, currently in the Championship with Coventry City, is closing in on 500 career appearances. However, he still looks back on that one for Everton with a great deal of affection.
“The upbringing I got alongside the likes of Phil Neville, Sylvain Distin, Leighton Baines has stood me in good stead throughout my career. I only played once but I know there are lots of Evertonians who would give their left arm to make an appearance for the team.
“It’s something I’ll always be proud of. If I have a son who is good enough to play football I wouldn’t want him to go anywhere other than Everton.”
Listen to Jake Bidwell's Bred a Blue story here or in the player below.
To catch up on other episodes of Bred A Blue, featuring guests including John Lundstram, Keith Southern and Paul Tait, click here.
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