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    Jose Baxter: Alan Stubbs saved my career after I was touted as the next Rooney

    Jose Baxter: Alan Stubbs saved my career after I was touted as the next Rooney

    Former Everton attacker Jose Baxter has given an insight into his time at Everton under David Moyes, after going from a player that was touted as the next Wayne Rooney at 16 to sitting on his mums sofa without a club on a Saturday watching soccer Saturday after leaving Everton.

    Baxter who appears in the FA Cup semi final for Sheffield United at the weekend, gave an insight into his life in an interview with the Daily Mail and credits Everton coach Alan Stubbs with getting his career back on track, arranging for him to join Oldham Athletic.

    ‘I nearly dropped the paper when I read that Ray Hall at Everton thought I was better at 16 than Rooney,’ he said. ‘Ray was academy director so must have seen something, but I never thought I was in that bracket. I mean, Rooney was scoring hat-tricks for Manchester United at the time. I wasn’t at that level.

    ‘But, like Wayne, I got into Everton’s first team at 16. I was the youngest ever to do it (16 years 191 days), and I genuinely thought that was my stage. I was there for good, no-one was going to shift me.

    ‘But Everton are massive and the next thing I knew, they were spending £15million on Marouane Fellaini. Mikel Arteta was already there, then Louis Saha arrived — all attacking players who were going to push me  down the pecking order.

    ‘I was just coming to terms with that when David Moyes called me into his office, told me the club were offering me a new two-year deal and that I should go away and enjoy my summer then sign it. But I knew I wasn’t going to. I wanted to be playing. I was nudging 20 and I didn’t want to be sitting on the bench for Everton again, thinking, “Am I going backwards here?”
    ‘I went to Crystal Palace and after speaking to their manager Dougie Freedman, I went on holiday knowing there was a contract waiting to be signed on my return. But something happened. I don’t know whether it was financial, but it never materialised. I ended up back at my parents’ home and for two months my Saturday afternoons were spent on the couch, watching Soccer Saturday.

    ‘It was the low point of my life  and I remember turning to my mum one day and saying, “I can’t hack this, I’m hanging my boots up”. But I was going to a local gym and my pal Cracker, Michael McNally, soon put me right. He not only kept me ticking over fitness-wise, he kept geeing me up by saying, “Make sure you stay in shape and you’ll get your chance, you’re too good not to”.

    ‘Next thing I knew, Stubbsy was on the phone, saying, “What’s this about quitting and not having a club? I’m not having that. Leave it with me and I’ll get back to you”.

    ‘He had a word with (former  Everton keeper) Paul Gerrard at Oldham and in no time Paul Dickov was offering me a contract.

    ‘It was only for three or four months initially and I was on buttons, but I was made up. I was so grateful to Cracker for keeping my spirits up and Stubbsy for effectively saving my career. Without his intervention, I don’t know what I’d have done – thrown myself off a cliff, probably.

    ‘All I’ve ever known is football and even when I look back now, I have absolutely no idea what else I could have done to earn a living.

    ‘But that short-term contract soon became a two-and-a-half-year one and I’ve never looked back. I’m 22 and I’ve got nearly 100 games under my belt.’

    Baxter, now at Sheffield United, added: ‘How many players can say they’ve won 10 games on the bounce, like we have this season? How many have played in a Cup semi-final? I’ve been playing in front of 18,000 at Bramall Lane and there’ll be 80,000 at Wembley.
    ‘No, I’ve no regrets about leaving Everton, and stepping out at Wembley on Sunday will be vindication of it. A lot of mates will be there, including Cracker. He’s a top lad and apart from helping me train, he does the same with Jamie Carragher, boxing and sparring in the ring, as well as fitness stuff.

    ‘Carra is there virtually every day now he has retired and he’s a bit useful with the gloves on.

    ‘I think of that and smile whenever I see him on Sky Sports. In fact, I’d advise Gary Neville to go a bit easy with the Scouse jokes.’

    And the Christian name for a lad born and raised in Bootle? ‘My  family had a shoe company and we used to get the leather from Spain,’ he said. ‘We got close to the family across there and the main bloke’s name was Jose. My mum really liked it and my grandad was called Joseph, so that was it — I was Jose.’

     

    Do you think Jose would have made it at Everton under Roberto Martinez?  Have your say below or on our Everton FORUM

     

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    Comments

    1. It’s not as simple as that is it? Jose went through a bit of a wild period too,from memory. He did get a few starts as well,under Moyes,but was generally underwhelming. Maybe he could have made it,but I’m quite sure he got a lot of encouragement and support as a kid and still believed he was better than the club’s assessment of him.Victor went through the same thing,but was disabused of the notion that he was bigger than the club and became a reasonable squad player. Rooney might well have just been a fat also ran if he’d stayed too.,I doubt it, but it could be right. Jack came through.So has Ross.Dan Gosling made it,before he bit the hand that fed him,and I would guess he’s regretting it a bit now. Hibbo would have a different view,so would Ossie. The lads I feel sorry for are Duffy and Jutskiewicz,Forshaw and Bidwell who always seemed to be sent on loan rather than getting squad time.Who’s to say they couldn’t have graduated.

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