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Everton new boy Ben Godfrey wants to go all the way to the top


Few players have gone from the bottom to top of the Premier League as quickly as Everton’s new £25million defender Ben Godfrey but there will be no letting up under boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Godfrey ended the last campaign with 11 consecutive defeats at Norwich who finished 13 points adrift of everyone else.

Yet here he is, less than three months later, playing for unbeaten Everton who ended last weekend top of the table after Godfrey made his debut in a controversial 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

In the hustle and bustle of the Merseyside derby, Ben Godfrey made his Everton debut

In the hustle and bustle of the Merseyside derby, Ben Godfrey made his Everton debut

‘I think you have to reach for the stars. It is the correct mindset for players, ‘ says the versatile 22-year-old, currently filling in for Seamus Coleman at right-back.

‘But what comes along with those ambitions is the understanding it doesn’t happen magically. You have to work hard every day and earn that right.

‘That is installed into us by the manager as well. By all means, enjoy doing well – but it’s not going to be easy.’

‘It always makes you brighter and happier around the training ground when you win because we’re all competitors and human beings.

‘But when it’s work time, it is work time, not always laughing and joking. To stay at the top, you have to continue.

Just three months on from ending the season in losing form with Norwich, Godfrey moved on

Just three months on from ending the season in losing form with Norwich, Godfrey moved on

‘There is a definite feelgood around the place. I’ve experienced situations where you are not winning. You can feel the difference.’

Everton travel to St Mary’s without the suspended Richarlison and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is under scrutiny after injuring Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

So far, Ancelotti can claim to have done the best transfer business of the summer window with midfielders Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure adding steel and James Rodriguez flair.

Godfrey, who started his career at hometown club York City and became England under-21s captain, is the type of young talent Everton could keep for a decade.

The central defender, whose father was a professional rugby league player, has already done his club initiation by singing “Killing me Softly” – which he describes as ‘the most nerve-wracking part of joining a new club’.

Mentored by Rio Ferdinand who is represented by the same management company, Godfrey was linked with several clubs and selected Everton after chatting with international team-mate Tom Davies.

‘As soon as I heard the whispers about Everton, that was it for me,’ he said.

‘I got the vibe that Tom really enjoys his football here. It’s a tight-knit bunch and he made me aware it would be easy to settle in.

‘To hear that from someone at the club says a lot. He’s another young footballer who is learning and it told me this was the right environment for me.’

Godfrey says his mind was made up as soon as he knew Everton were interested in signing him

Godfrey says his mind was made up as soon as he knew Everton were interested in signing him

Godfrey’s Blues debut couldn’t have been more dramatic. His introduction when Coleman got injured was almost lost amidst the Van Dijk injury, Richarlison red card and late VAR controversy to deny Liverpool a late winner.

‘It was a hundred miles an hour for the whole game,’ he said. ‘There were no fans but you could still feel how much it meant to the players and everyone associated with the club.

‘I’ve been really fortunate my career has gone upwards so far but I know football isn’t always like that.

‘I’m really appreciative of my journey. Right from York City, going on loan, getting promoted with Norwich and I even took so much from the relegation season.’

As a kid, Godfrey used to run to a local boxing gym and work out, though he never had an amateur fight. He struggles to find time to hit the pads now but the work ethic remains and he’s been impressed seeing Everton’s in-form striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin putting in extra practise after formal training.

‘Dom wasn’t easy to face as an opponent,’ he admits. He’s quick, he can leap and he can finish. As a defender, you knew if a ball was played in behind, he’d be on your shoulder.’

A trip to Southampton is a test to see how Godfrey has progressed. In December, he was part of a Norwich team beaten 2-1. This time, Everton will be fancied to pick up a result, but Godfrey knows it’ll take commitment.

‘They are a well-organised team – and tough. They keep a high tempo. ’ he warns. ‘We trained hard all week and are going to give ourselves the best chance. But it’s not going to be easy by any means.

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