"Xavier came to us highly recommended and it has only taken a few days of
his trial here to show that he is a good player and has the ability to do
well here. "He is quick, strong and a good lad, who also speaks English.
"The good thing is that he is also versatile and can play in central defence
and also at right-back. He is a little short of match fitness, but that won't
be a problem." The Mozambique-born ace flew back to Lisbon last night and
will then head to Eindhoven before arriving back on Merseyside next week.
He spent the start of the season at Premiership rivals West Ham, who were
also interested in a permanent deal. Xavier, who was signed for PSV by new
Newcastle United boss Bobby Robson, has also had spells with Sporting Lisbon
and Benfica in Portugal, Spanish outfit Ovideo and Italian side Bari.
Xavier is a defender who can play at different positions. In Eindhoven he
played as back (right and sometimes even left) and as guard. He is not PSV's
best defender but he can be useful for Everton.
Abel Xavier is a Portuguese international and is fairly good at heading.
He is determined and powerful. However, the Dutch way of defending (without
a sweeper, playing on one line) has created some difficulties for a lot of
players (Nikiforov of PSV, Picun of Feyenoord). Abel Xavier is one of them,
In the English Premiership he can be of value due to his size, his heading
ability, and his skill on the ball.
Oct 99: After his first 5 games for Everton, the general verdict is
that Abel Xavier has been a good signing. Okay, he may not be the best but he
does generally work hard and plays with some pride at least before
the second-half debacle v Arsenal, where he just gave up.
But to see the
celebrations after the derby win shows that he is getting a feel for the
club and its traditions attached. He needs to be given time and he will
become a very good player to have around the club he does play
in a lot of positions and could be useful to cover injuries.
He may not have fully adjusted to the pace of the game yet. His passing
is OK but seems to fade out of the game for long periods. The most disappointing
aspect of him so far is that for a big bloke he's not very good in the air.
2000: Although he sustained a thigh injury that put him out of the last
two Everton matches, Xavier continued to press at international level, and
was rewarded with a place in Portugal's final squad of 22 for Euro2000,
where he displayed yet another weird hair-do: blond all over!
in the first match – against England – was solid, confident and involved
as he played a roving right-back role to perfection. Unfortunately, he
sustained a leg injury in training, and missed Portugal's next three matches.
reappeared for the semi-final against France, and a moment of high
controversy towards the end of extra time, when he was seen to make a
brilliant near-post save – with his hand – as Wiltord powered in.
Despite mass and aggressive onfield protests by the Portuguese players, Zinedine Zidane stepped up to score the
Golden-Goal penalty that put France into the Final.
The ugly scenes
included manhandling of officials and, according to Uefa, spitting at a
linesman, with Xavier grabbing the referee's arm. He was later fined €8,000 and banned from all Uefa matches for an incredible 9 months!
the whole business left a sour taste with Evertonians when he stated the
main reason for appealing the Uefa decision was that he would otherwise be a poor prospect on
the transfer market!
Walter Smith's response was to
stick him out at number 28 in the Premiership squad, but the horrendous injury
crisis of the early season forced Smith to call on the enigmatic
defender. Xavier claimed he had been mis-quoted and, after regaining
full fitness, he was back in the first team for crucial wins against Boro,
Newcastle, and Bradford before falling victim to the same knee injury again.
was back by January 2001 for a few games – including our humiliating cup
exit thanks to Tranmere Rovers – but suffered another set back which would
keep him out until Easter. He returned in time for the Merseyside
derby and the Arsenal game, in which he was sent off.
has played, he has made an impact; more comfortable at centre back than
right back or midfield, Xavier will need to stay fully fit next season for
us to see the best out of him � something we have only seen flashes of to
And it was that poor performance record which ultimately led to
Everton allowing him to leave, and save a few more pennies on his wages,
while he moved over the park to what will surely be a bright future with the
Reds. And at what price? Holding his registration, and with an
open opportunity to negotiate a contract extension any time during 2001,
Everton left it to the last minute. And then the ultimate insult was
their reluctance to offer him
anything more than a desultory pay-as-you-play deal.
loss; Liverpool's gain, as we continue to allow our best players to
Xavier would recall many years later: “I wanted to stay at
Everton, I was playing, was loved by the people and attached to the cause.
“I wanted to renew my contract but unfortunately they said to me they
weren’t able to extend it because of the economic problems they faced.
“I said to the board, I want to show my appreciation and let me go in
January and allow Everton to get some money for me because if I leave in
the summer it’s as a free agent.
“I know the impact these kind of moves can have but I believe I did it
in the right way. “I felt privileged to have played for Everton and both
appreciated and respected their fans.
“I gave them the chance to extend my contract because I wanted to stay
but when they said that was not possible, I just had to find a solution.
“In the end, Everton might not have been expecting that I’d move across
the park but it all happened so fast and for Liverpool it was the chance
to get an international player, almost for free.
“There had been the challenges both on and off the field at Everton but
in the space of 15 days I was back playing Champions League football.”
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