Everton: Phil Jagielka to Follow Legendary Captains Ratcliffe, Labone & Watson
The No. 9 shirt at Everton has always had dream-like connotations, with players such as William Ralph Dean, Bob Latchford, Graeme Sharp and, most recently, Duncan Ferguson proudly displaying the jersey.
However, Everton has also enjoyed its fair share of defensive legends with names such as Mike Lyons, Brian Labone, Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Watson, all part of the heritage of the club, and all respected captains of the Blues.
The former Manchester United man will leave Everton this summer after serving the club with distinction since joining from Old Trafford in 2005.
Jagielka joined the Blues in 2007 from Sheffield United and has become an integral part of David Moyes' team since his £4 million move. The 30-year-old is committed to the club until 2017 after signing a new contract in January (The Mirror).
The central defender has also come to the attention of England managers Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson since joining Everton, and has earned 16 caps since his international debut in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago in 2008.
Jagielka made his 500th appearance in the Premier League when he lead Everton out for the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Sunday, and celebrated by denying Steven Gerrard with a deft flick of his heel to block the midfielder's drive and a brilliantly timed tackle on Philippe Coutinho.
Against Liverpool, Jagielka was superb. In-form Anfield striker Daniel Sturridge, who is not short of pace, rarely escaped his attentions, and his work rate—such a mainstay in the affectionate eyes of Everton fans—was flawless.
With all the focus on Jamie Carragher playing at the back for the final time in a Merseyside derby before retirement, Jagielka carried out his own duties with effective authority and led the team by example.
Jagielka's current form has been hugely impressive. Everton have conceded just two goals in their last six Premier League matches with the England defender in the team.
This has not been a perfect season for Everton. The FA Cup quarterfinal defeat by Wigan Athletic wiped away a potential return to Wembley for the club, and Jagielka especially. It is no coincidence that his absence from the team due to a gashed ankle (ESPN) was coupled with the lacklustre defeat.
Jagielka scored the winning penalty in the FA Cup semifinal shootout defeat of Manchester United in 2009, but missed the Final against Chelsea due to a serious knee injury.
But that disappointment has merely acted as a spur for Jagielka, and his rare slips at the back are more noticeable these days due to the consistency of his performances.
It remains to be seen if Moyes will stay at Goodison next season, but if the manager does leave the club, one of his best decisions—making Jagielka club captain—could have been one of his last.
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