My Everton #100: ‘You Made Me Feel 10 Feet Tall’ - Muhamed Besic

I think about what could have been for me at Everton a lot, to be honest.

I felt that my mentality and style of play was the perfect fit, in terms of aligning with the values of the club and what the fans like to see, you know. Sometimes you go to a club and you get a feeling that it just fits together. You cannot force it but it was there for me at Everton.

I have no regrets. There was no stopping the injuries — I had some really damaging ones when I felt at my best — but I can’t help thinking what if I didn’t have them. I think I could have stayed at the club for a long time. That was always my dream, to stay at Everton for a long time.

I think the fans and the club’s values are what make it so special. We say in Bosnia, like, the fans are from the streets. They are not like some fans of other clubs. When you see Evertonians on the street, they are the people who will talk to you like they are one of their friends. I love that connection.

I can remember when I heard the news that Roberto Martinez, who was then the Everton manager, was interested in signing me. I had quite a few other options at that time because I had just played a World Cup and I was a young player — 22 years old at the time — but when Everton called it became extremely straightforward. It was an instant decision, to be fair.

What I don’t think many people know is that I came from Ferencvaros, where I had played as a centre-back for the previous two seasons. So, when I came to the Premier League, the number 6 role was quite new for me in terms of the position.

You know they call Everton the People’s Club and it’s something I saw for myself. There were people like Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and other really great people in the Club. They made me feel really welcome and I got a very good feeling straight from the beginning.

I’m the type of guy who remembers everything about the games I played in, down to the little actions.

I’ve always been a confident player, too. I remember my first involvement against Porto, a turn and diagonal pass, which went well but then also my first Premier League game, with the back-heel against Chelsea, which didn’t go right. For me, I never let anything affect me too much. In the long term I had confidence in my ability that it would always work out. Of course, it’s frustrating when you make a mistake but my mentality has always been to keep moving forward. I think that mentality made the transition of coming to England quite easy for me.

Another game Evertonians often talk to me about is the Manchester City one in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. I can still replay moments on the pitch in my mind now, every duel with Yaya Toure, a Cruyff turn to get past David Silva… I don’t forget much and they are nice memories to hold.

Then there is Goodison Park. What an amazing stadium. I think my favourite memory is the big tackle I made on Joey Barton when we played QPR. The whole stadium stood up and roared. It gives you a great feeling, you feel 10 feet tall. The fans in Goodison can celebrate an important tackle almost as much as a goal and I always loved this. The fans’ reactions, even to the small things that happen on the pitch, are incredible.

I always thought it would have been a nightmare to play against us at Goodison and I remember speaking to a lot of other players who said exactly that. I have seen the new stadium is being built and it looks great but Goodison will also be missed, for sure.

The way the fans treated me and the connection I had with them always meant a lot. It still does. Even now, I’m back in Hungary with Ferencvaros and I see Evertonians now and again. Every time they say, ‘It was a shame it didn’t work out’ and things like this. That’s life, but it means a lot to me to be part of Everton and that the people still remember me fondly like this.

I still support the club, of course. I still watch nearly every game — as many as I possibly can. I know it’s been a difficult couple of years but I was delighted when Doucs scored the goal against Bournemouth on the final day of last season to keep the club from relegation.

I will always be an Evertonian.

By Muhamed Bešić, 56 appearances for Everton (2014-2018)

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