Why Steven Naismith was a man of the people at Everton FC
- Credit: PA
There's been an outpouring of love for Steven Naismith from Everton fans after his departure from Merseyside for Norwich City.
In a comment piece of the Liverpool Echo website, the newspaper's Everton writer Phil Kirkbride gives a taste of what Norwich City fans can expect as he bids farewell to Merseyside.
The People's Club found themselves a man of the people.
They now say farewell to someone they will call a friend for life.
Steven Naismith was a player the Everton fans could relate to, one they saw give nothing less than everything he had, for every single second of every single game.
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Naismith was the type loved on the terraces, he approached each game how the fans would if given the chance to pull on that royal blue shirt and they adored him for it.
A deadly finisher, the scourge of the top four, feisty, brave, relentless in his work-rate but clever, cunning and skilful to go with it, he was an Everton forward with a winning mentality - and brilliant on his day.
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But off the pitch he was also a leading light, a generous and kind-hearted man who continues to dedicate himself to several charities, many in this city.
He ends his Everton career with 67 starts, 56 sub appearances and 25 goals in his three-and-a-half-year spell but, maybe more importantly, with the respect of everyone at Everton.
Signed from Rangers in the summer of 2012, his form would dip like everyone's and he took time to win the fans over, but whenever he was on the pitch Naismith could never be accused of showing anything other than full-blooded passion.
You see, football is his passion.
Settled and happy on Merseyside, Naismith no doubt leaves with a heavy heart but he has been offered the chance to go and do what he loves, and what he did best at Everton, and play football.
His chances were increasingly limited at Goodison and though, selfishly, we would rather have kept him, who would deny the 29-year-old the opportunity that Norwich have offered?
Such was the Canaries' desire to sign Naismith that they were willing to match Everton's valuation of the player and make the Blues' decision that bit easier.
A fee of £8.5m is not to be sniffed at, even in today's world of eye-watering transfer sums, and for a player bought on a free, who was not in the manager's plans, it's money Everton couldn't turn down, well, not twice anyway.
Martinez blocked a summer move to Norwich but in doing so paved the way for, perhaps in many fans' eyes, the defining moment of Naismith's Everton career.
Which of his three goals against Chelsea did you like the best? Was it the header, left foot strike or right foot finish? Either way his perfect hat-trick was the perfect way to remember a player who served the club, and its supporters, with distinction.
Naismith's most impressive run of form came in Martinez's first season where his five league goals, each one either match-winning or game-turning, helped propel Everton to fifth in the table and a record Premier League points tally.
For a while that term he was the manager's super-sub but by the time the campaign was in the home straight, the Scot was in the starting line-up on merit.
His goal against Arsenal, at a Goodison drenched by April showers, was a special moment as Naismith held the adulation of an entire fan base.
He's never lost it.
Chances are, Naismith will win the same level of admiration at Norwich City and their chances of survival have today increased with his arrival.
We wish him well and look forward to his return to Goodison on the final day of the season.
Cheers Naisy and see you in May.