Everton defender and captain Phil Jagielka answered students’ questions at Lord Derby Academy. Find out Phil’s advice for aspiring footballers and which player is in charge of the music in the dressing room on match days:
If you were to give one piece of advice to an aspiring footballer what would it be?
The fun answer is make sure you have a short autograph as you end up signing a lot of stuff and if it’s a long one can become a little bit annoying! So, if you are going to be good at football make sure your autograph is nice and short – but the most important answer is simply go out and enjoy playing football.
Growing up, were you always a defender?
I used to play up front, then I was an attacking midfielder and now at the back so I think they were trying to tell me something slowly through the age groups that maybe my goals to game ratio wasn’t quite good enough but it is a natural progression I think among many defenders I know.
Who do you think is the best defender in the world?
Well, good question. Normally when you get a bit older, you get more experienced, you make fewer mistakes. You always hear the Italian players being mentioned in this bracket; (Leonardo) Bonucci is one that stands out for me.
Who is the most difficult player you have played against?
There have been quite a few to be honest. One person I didn’t particularly enjoy playing against, which if there are any Liverpool fans in here they may smile, was Luis Suarez. Not only did he score goals but he was a really tough opponent, he never gave you a minute’s peace. Unfortunately, he scored a few too many goals in the derby so he wins that award.
You began your football career at Everton at their youth academy. Having re-joined Everton how did it feel to be named club captain in 2013?
It was a little strange to be honest with you; I was released when I was 15 and thankfully got picked up by Sheffield United. I played a lot of games there and funnily enough when it came time for me to move, Everton were interested. It all happened at once and before I knew it I had been there five or six years and Phil Neville was retiring. It was nice to be named captain so it was a very proud moment and something I look forward to every match day.
Since joining Everton, you have played in many derby matches against Liverpool. What is the most memorable Everton v Liverpool derby game you have been a part of?
On a personal level I think it would be quite easy; scoring in the last minute at Anfield, at the Kop end, was pretty special but when we won 2-0 at home and I think Yak(ubu) scored. It was nice to get a victory and the clean sheet too.
Who are your best friends in football?
I’ve got a couple of lads I used to play with at Sheffield United, Nick Montgomery and the other is at Stevenage, Michael Tonge. Obviously I have been at Everton for so long now I’ve got some fairly decent mates and the two lads I spend the most time with at the minute is Gaz (Gareth Barry) and Leighton (Baines).
Who is the most skilful player currently playing for Everton?
Well (Yannick) Bolasie likes to do the most tricks; it doesn’t always come off like you saw when he tried his rebona against West Ham! (Gerard) Deulofeu likes a few too, so I think it would be between those two for me.
Ronald Koeman has made a great start to life as Everton manager. What is he like to play under?
It’s great, I like to hear what he has to say; normally he can show you what he wants you to do as well as tell you. It’s always nice to have a good start to the season and so far it’s been a pretty decent one. We’ve got some difficult fixtures coming up before Christmas but hopefully we can continue as we have been and enter the second part of the season as we began the first.
Which Everton signing from the summer has impressed you most?
I think (Idrissa) Gueye, though we call him Gana, has come in and especially for the first five or six games was phenomenal. He dominated the midfield, passed it, tackled, and kept the ball and all with a smile on his face. He is a really nice kid, hopefully he can keep performances going and as good as they are at the moment.
Some of your England colleagues have been quoted describing you as a future football manager, is club management something you would be interested in pursuing?
Most people say that about me, I don’t know if it’s because I speak too much or I’m too loud but being a manager is something I’d love to do. It’s a long road and it’s a difficult one to decide but, never say never.
Which player is in charge of the music in the dressing room on match day?
Well throughout the week, unfortunately it’s all the Spanish players; they just listen to Spanish music which is not the best. As for match day music, I think we all take it in turn; Ross (Barkley) is likely to put his music on quite loud. He doesn’t get booted off too many times so I’d probably say Ross Barkley.