Blessed with a good touch, superb long-range passing and an acquired reading of the game, Stubbs has
built a career as a footballing centre-back. Bolton used him
sporadically in midfield before Tommy Burns paid £4M to make him Celtic's
then-record signing in 1996 and, after some teething troubles, he became a
valuable player for the Glasgow club.
Happiest when there is a more defence-minded centre-back beside him,
Stubbs forged a tremendous partnership with Marc Rieper during Celtic's
1998 championship season.
But when he gave a blood sample at the 1999 Scottish Cup final, he was
diagnosed with testicular cancer. However, following an operation
and chemotherapy, he made a full recovery. In November 2000, it
emerged that he had suffered a relapse and he was admitted to hospital for
further treatment. He underwent surgery in January 2001 and was once
again given the all-clear shortly after.
He says: "I appreciate everything more, and not just football,
because of what happened to me. I have a different perspective on
life these days."
His addition to Everton's strangely under-performing squad in 2001 was the fulfillment of a dream for the Kirkby-born defender and lifelong Evertonian. Bringing the experience gained from his years in Scotland he proved a useful replacement for the departed Richard Gough and grew into a natural captain at Goodison Park.
Upon joining the Blues from Celtic he said:
"If I sign for Everton I'll be playing for the club of my dreams.
"I've always dreamed of playing for Everton and this is my last
chance to do so."
'Now I am here, I can't help thinking this is the ultimate reward for the
battling qualities I have had to show.
'I simply cannot wait to pull on an Everton jersey for the first
time. I know it is going to be the best feeling I've ever had in
And Stubbsy was definitely a key factor in a much more resilient Everton
side that opened the 2001-02 season with an unprecedented win at Charlton
to celebrate his debut. But Walter Smith was forced to experiment
with a 5-3-2 formation mainly to accommodate the old Scouser and his
distinct lack of pace. His relegation to the bench against West
Ham coincided with a significant improvement in Everton's football
that finally start to bring in some results.
But Stubbs fought his way back in to contention and established an
effective if fundamentally limited partnership with Davie Weir. He
had a pretty decent season overall after a shaky start.
In the 2002-03 season he really started to establish himself alongside Yobo but consistency was often a problem and when the Nigerian was either injured or away on African Nations Cup duty the season after that, Stubbs' form dipped.
And the dubious role he is
believed to have played in the departure of Wayne Rooney did not improve his stock among supporters, encouraging the
lad at one point to "join a bigger club". The fact that they shared
the same agent, who made £1½M from the deal may indeed have been significant...
As age began to keep up with him he was becoming slower and more injury-prone which meant he often got caught out by the ball over the top.
Moyes's tougher and tougher 'hard work'
training regime may not have helped a player like him, who needed most
of his energy for the game.
Indeed, when training resumed on 1 July 2005,
Stubbsy was nowhere to be seen. He had left Everton by default, despite the fact that the Blues were gearing up for their foray into the Champions League,
having rejected the one-year contract offered him by Moyes and departed in fairly acrimonious circumstances.
After he was picked up by Sunderland, Stubbs then revealed that there was
a lot more behind his decision to leave Everton, namely a "cancer clause"
in his contract. The way it was revealed in The Guardian put the club in a very poor light, but a more balanced story later appeared in the Daily Post.
However, neither story makes mention of the role played in this sad
business by his agent — none other than Paul Stretford — coincidentally(!)
But it wasn't the last we would see of Alan Stubbs in an Everton shirt.
The Per Krøldrup fiasco left Everton
seriously short of central defenders in the January 2006 transfer window
and David Moyes (after saying with conviction that he expected no players
either in or out) acted to bring back the disaffected Evertonian, who
nobly claimed all that cancer clause stuff had been an "unfortunate
Within half-an-hour of being named on the subs bench
in the big game against Arsenal, Stubbs
returned to a warm Goodison welcome and played his part in an excellent
defensive performance that secured a massive Everton win over the
Londoners. And despite the barbs about aging has-beens, the stats
went on to prove that Everton with Stubbs and Weir at the back are more
effective defensively than any other current combination.
Having floundered at the Stadium of Light, Stubbs was enjoying a new lease on life back at his boyhood club. There were doubts about
whether he would sign another contract for the 2006-07 season but he
did agree to a one-year extension and then opted to stay one more year the season after that to help Everton's second crack at European football in three seasons.
Stubbs was expected to be displaced by Joleon Lescott but in fact it
seemed David Moyes really wanted to continue having him provide the
experienced and competent defending that was a cornerstone for his team.
However, injuries disrupted that plan, although Lescott moving to
left-back to stand in for injured Nuno Valente gave him further opportunities
to partner Yobo in the middle.
Ultimately, injury and the form of Lescott, Yobo and Phil Jagielka restricted Stubbs to just three appearances in 2007-08 and he made a seemingly abrupt free transfer to doomed Derby County on transfer deadline day in January 2008.
It wasn't long, though, before Stubbs returned to Everton, a reliable defender to provide yet more defensive expertise on David Moyes's coaching team. He eventually too charge of the Reserves.
By Michael Kenrick and Lyndon Lloyd
Last updated January 2012
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