Hibbert - Gravesen tops Rooney
Defender reflects on evolution of the game
Last Updated: April 1, 2011 10:22am
Hibbert: Seen it all
Tony Hibbert admits that he considers Thomas Gravesen and not Wayne Rooney the most talented player he has played with at Everton.
"People might think Wayne Rooney was the most talented I've played with. But ability-wise, Thomas Gravesen was the best. For passing and skills, he was different class."
Tony Hibbert Quotes of the week
A veteran at Goodison Park, the defender now has 10 years of experience in the Premier League, with Thursday marking a decade since his first appearance for the Toffees.
Standing firm as players came and went, Hibbert has featured alongside no less than 85 team-mates in the blue of Everton.
The 30-year-old has a somewhat surprising answer when asked who he considers the most talented player he has played alongside over the years.
Hibbert told the Daily Express: "People might think Wayne Rooney was the most talented I've played with - and he could pull a volley out of nothing and put it in the top corner from 40 yards like he did against Arsenal.
"But ability-wise, Thomas Gravesen was the best. For passing and skills, he was different class."
The right-back is also better-placed than most to reflect on how the game has changed in the last decade, particularly the dying art of the tackle.
A self-confessed advocate of the old school of defending, Hibbert admits he has been forced to adapt and re-evaluate his game as referees began to clamp down on heavy challenges.
"I have always enjoyed a tackle. I grew up watching my dad's team in the Sunday league and that's a big part of my game," he added.
"Nowadays, and it has happened this season, referees will say to me, 'You got the ball first but you went in too hard, or went in too quick'.
"Years ago, the mentality was to make your mark first, so they wouldn't be able to get up and run as fast as you. You're not going to get booked, it's your first challenge.
"But now you can't touch people, otherwise you are on a yellow card for 80 minutes. Sometimes you can't get your head around it."