Academy director Alan Irvine said he was looking forward to working with highly-rated teenager George Green after the club agreed a deal with Bradford City in October 2011 for the youngster
to join the Toffees’ youth set-up the following summer.
The 15-year-old, from Dewsbury, was an attacking midfielder had been linked with the likes of Tottenham and Bayern Munich, but Everton got there first with a reported initial bid of £280k in a deal potentially worth £2M to the Bantams.
“George is a young player who was attracting interest from a number of clubs,” Irvine told evertonfc.com. “He has got good potential but at the moment that’s all it is. He has got a lot of work to do and he knows that. We’re happy to have him and we’re looking forward to working with him here at the academy.”
Green had a medical with Everton the Monday after the infamous derby in which Martin Atkinson wrongly sent off Jack Rodwell when Liverpool cheat Suarez dived and yelped in agony after a far challenge for a 50/50 ball. Green completed the signing the following day,
with the benefit of a £45k signing on bounus, despite renewed late interest from Tottenham, and it appeared that he would move to Finch Farm straight away with talk of him playing in the next Academy U-16 game — versus Liverpool!
But it was revealed that Spurs made an end run to gazump the Blues when joint-chairman of Bradford City, Julian Rhodes said: “Spurs came in with a bigger offer but we were more than happy for him to stay with Everton and honour the agreement we’d got. George had settled in there and made it clear he was happy to be an Everton player.”
Following a brief cameo after he arrived against Wolves, George had to wait until later in the season before starting to find his feet amongst his seniors on the Under-18 Academy side, with just four more runouts as a second-half sub. He also came on for the Reserves in the second-half of the Liverpool Senior Cup Semi-Final at Bootle and changed the game, setting up the equalizer for Hallam Hope and scoring one of the penalties that would enable Everton to go through to the final on the back of a 6-5 penalty shoot-out win.
His progress through the Everton Academy was stalled for a while as
he did not seem to be getting the games or exposure a young protégé of
his prodigious talent should be getting. But later it would be
revealed that the £4k/wk he was being paid had gone to his head, and he
wasn't putting the effort into training. He would became a YouTube
sensation among Evertonians for a spectacular back-heeled volley in
match for one of the club's youth teams. Later, there was talk of
a serious back problem, and that kept him sidelined for quite a while.
In Season 2014-15, he did go out on loan, but only to locals Tranmere
Rovers, who were struggling in League Two. Ex-Tranmere boss Mickey
Adams labelled him as a “little magician” earlier this year when he
scored a spectacular injury-time equaliser that looked like it might
spark a push away from relegation for Rovers. But Green couldn't hold
down a starting role and was unable to
prevent the inevitable, despite scoring the odd wonder goal, with his
temporary teammates suffering the supreme ignominy of being relegated from
the Football League.
The news for Green himself would not be much better as he saw his
Everton dream turn into the ultimate nightmare of being released by the
club in June as surplus to requirements. There were unconfirmed murmurs
of off-field issues and 'attitude' but the sad indictment of yet another
much vaunted young star unable to fulfil his tremendous potential would
be the lasting legacy. Green would go on to sign for Oldham
under the recommendation of Joe Royle.
But he didn't last long there, playing in just 4 games before he was
let go. The League One club issued a two-line statement on their website
in early November 2015 saying: "Midfielder George Green has been
released from his contract by mutual consent. We wish George all the
best for the future."
That future would see him next playing for Osset Albion as he
returned home to Yorkshire and a more humbling wage of just £75/wk for
the Northern League side. Recalling his torid time at Everton, he
“It went straight to my head. I just went out and blew the signing-on
fee,” he remembers. “You’re earning thousands of pounds a week and you
get more leeway than other players. You don’t want to take liberties but
I took more than one.”
Green was playing games for Everton’s Under-21s within a few months
of his arrival such was his potential. But as the money rolled in he
admits he found it hard to maintain his focus.
“I wasn’t going into training because I thought I was better than
everyone else,” he says. “Being an idiot. Being an absolute idiot, if
I’m honest. I wasn’t turning up sometimes because I wasn’t enjoying it
and I thought I could do what I wanted. When I did go in, I was training
absolute shite. When you’re playing at that standard you can’t do that.
It’s a better game than that.”
The arrival of Roberto Martínez in 2013 to replace David Moyes
appeared to offer Green hope but a hernia injury meant he fell down the
pecking order and spiralled into depression. There were even
message-board rumours that he had checked himself into rehab.
“It was nothing to do with drink or drugs,” he says. “I suffered
really badly when things started going wrong on the pitch. I wanted to
take my life a few times. There were a couple of bad stints but now I’ve
come out of them stronger,” he says. “I was expected to make the first
team at 16 and then win an England call-up. But if you have one bad game
then you start having people question you and asking why you aren’t
progressing. It did all get too much because I was only doing the best
that I could.”
“They did everything they could but unfortunately I threw it back in
their faces,” he says. “Everton knew I had ability but they wanted to
see that I could be more professional and unfortunately I didn’t show
“I was sent to see a psychologist to get my head right but he didn’t
really help. He gave me some tablets which I didn’t take because I
didn’t want to be known as someone who needed that to feel right. It all
hit me at once. I pushed away all my friends and family because you
don’t realise they are there to help.”
“The people behind the club didn’t understand how I worked as a
player so it got to a stage where I thought it’s not about the money,”
he says. “If a manager shouts at me, I won’t respond. I’ll tell them to
fuck off and walk off. Whereas if they put their arm around me I react
differently. It has had a negative impact on my life in some ways but it
was important to me to find happiness again. I just wanted to go back to
my old roots and start enjoying the game again.”
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