Last week Victor Anichebe completed a late deadline day move to West Brom and in doing so ended 15 years at Everton, the club he called his own. Although born in Lagos, Nigeria, Anichebe was raised on Merseyside and joined Everton aged 10. He developed through the youth system and made his first team debut as a 17-year-old in an FA Cup tie against Chelsea. Even at such a tender age, Anichebe was powerfully built, enabling him to mix it with wise and experienced Centre Backs almost twice his age.
A player with vast potential, it is a pity that Anichebe leaves Everton without ever fully realising just how good a footballer he could become. It is probably only in the last 12 months that Anichebe began to perform consistently at a high level, becoming the first choice Striker for much of last season. But with a change of regime and the new playing style that Martinez is looking to implement, it is no great surprise that he has decided to move elsewhere.
It was in Europe where Anichebe excelled, producing a number of his best Everton performances in testing conditions on the continent. During the 2007-8 Uefa Cup campaign, Moyes relied heavily upon the Crosby youngster and Anichebe repaid that faith with crucial away goals in games against Metalist Kharkiv, Nuremberg and SK Brann. David Moyes often looked back on the Metalist Kharkiv game and Anichebe’s goal in particular as a key moment in his Everton tenure. Defeat in the Ukraine would have placed serious doubts over his ability to manage in Europe, with Everton’s previous European record under his management disastrous.
Anichebe had a mixed relationship with the Everton support. At times he was unplayable, but all too often his demeanor let him down, although this did improve in the last year or two. It was only in the last few days, after he had left Everton, that he spoke about how much Everton meant to him and if he had perhaps been a bit more open earlier in his career, the Evertonians would have taken to him with greater affection. Shortly after completing his move to West Brom, an emotional Anichebe spoke to evertonTV.
“It was a wrench to leave Everton. I had been at Everton 15 years since I was a child so it was difficult to leave. But I think it was the right time to leave.
“When you move somewhere – especially after being at Everton for so long and Everton being my team, I love Everton – for me to leave there has to be some connection and I felt that with West Brom.”
Anichebe leaves Everton having failed to win over the entire support, but he has a genuine love for the football club which will ensure he is always welcomed back with open arms.