Phil Jagielka has become a colossus for club and country, and Roberto Martinez is grateful that the defender saved him from at least one big decision when he took over in the Goodison hot seat during the summer.
“When I arrived I still had a decision to make,” he says. “It doesn’t matter who the captain was, you need to make your own decision but I never had any doubts that Phil was ready for that role.
“He’s the perfect age to take the dressing room forward and he has the qualities that are needed to be successful.
“He’s guided by the next challenge. Now he has the perfect challenge in front of him, which is to guide this golden generation we have at Everton.”
Good communication between the dressing room and the manager’s office is essential for the prosperity of any side, and Martinez insists that relationship is in rude health at Finch Farm.
“We have a strong dressing room and he’s crucial to that,” he says. “In any relationship between manager and captain you need to have frank exchanges.
“You should be able to be honest and exchange your views to find solutions to issues. Jags is always a very straightforward man so that helps. Being a leader comes as second nature to him. You have to be born to be a leader, you can’t really learn it. Jags is that type who has that in him. I trust him as a captain and that’s important.”
Over the last six months Jagielka has seen lukewarm reviews for his country slowly lead to general acclaim, and eventually the belief that he is a cert for Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad next summer.
And Martinez insists the 31-year-old is unlikely to let anyone down.
“As a player it’s there for everyone to see that he’s in the best moment of his career,” says the Blues boss. “He’s playing for England as well as he is for Everton and internally he’s been really influential in trying to help the new players understand what it is to play for Everton.
“If you look at his performances of late they are full of maturity and responsibility.
“His defensive display against Ukraine (for England) was as good as it gets in international football.
“There are always a lot of opinions about the national team but it’s about what you can do on the pitch. Phil has shown in every game that he is growing into the role and the best is still to come. England are in good hands when he is in that central partnership.”
As someone who built his own career up through the leagues in England, Martinez vividly recalls watching his present-day skipper flourish as a young talent at Sheffield United.
Now he is satisfied that Everton have the glistening real deal.
“I remember him playing for Sheffield United in midfield and then the season I saw him most he was playing right-back for them,” he says.
“Then since he moved to Everton you just watched him go from strength to strength. He’s hungry to move us forward now. He is ready for that and I really enjoy working with him.”