Richard Gough of Everton celebrates scoring

Everton cult hero on rejecting Redknapp and proving critics wrong

Richard Gough has been looking back on his time at Everton


Everton cult hero opens up on rejecting Harry Redknapp offer and proving doubters wrong

Richard Gough has opened up on the full story of him turning down Harry Redknapp's West Ham to instead join Walter Smith at Everton.

The centre-back made the move to Goodison Park in 1999 and spent two seasons with the Blues, quickly establishing himself as an important player in the squad despite doubts over his age when first joining the club.

Having set aside plans to retire from football to make the move to Everton, Gough has now opened up on how he came to reject Harry Redknapp and his desire to get the defender to West Ham.

There was even the chance to work with someone who would become a very important Premier League player in the future.

Gough told the official Everton podcast: "I'd come back and I'd played for Nottingham Forest for a few games. I was heading back to America to take over the under-20 American team, as I was still under contract with Major League Soccer.

"I got a phone call from Harry Redknapp right at the end of the season saying, 'I'd like you to come and play with this young kid who could maybe learn a few things from you, we'd like you to come and play for West Ham'.

"To cut a long story short, the young kid was Rio Ferdinand.

"So I phoned Walter [Smith] up and told him Harry Redknapp wanted to sign me for West Ham and asked him how much money should I get. I didn't know the Premier League, with bonuses and stuff like that and all the money.

"And Walter said, 'Come on up to Liverpool, you'll enjoy it much more than London, you've been there already with Spurs. We've got the basis of a decent team.'"

Gough struck up a strong partnership with David Weir after moving to Everton.
Richard Gough battles with Dion Dublin

However, he admitted he initially had one particular question over the possibility of working with another of the club's defenders at the time.

"I can always remember saying to him [Smith] he had Dave Watson there who was 37 or 38, the same age as me. But he said Waggy was going to help more on the coaching side," Gough added.

"Obviously I told him I would come, I had to phone Harry Redknapp back and tell him I was sorry! I played with Waggy for the game against Manchester United, then it was myself and David Weir from roughly then on.

"I knew David from Hearts, I'd seen him play there and at Falkirk. I didn't know how good he was until I played with him and sometimes you find that. We had a really good partnership at Everton and it was great to play with him."

Gough joined Everton having spent a long period of his career in Scotland with Rangers, having left Spurs to move up north in 1987.

After a brief loan spell back with Nottingham Forest, English football was again the destination as the defender set his sights on Goodison Park.

And, while he didn't believe he had to prove himself in the Premier League, he did have to show something to his new teammates.

"I didn't think I had unfinished business," Gough claimed.

"I knew when I came down to Everton at 37 years old, as I was at the time, I remember before pre-season had started I read the newspaper and people were writing in saying, 'What are we signing an old guy like Gough for?'.

"It's a lot down to David Weir and the players we had there at that time, that was one of my best seasons in football. I played really well in that first season I was at Everton.

"The second season unfortunately I picked up an injury in the third game and was out for four months and came back, but I didn't feel the same or as good in that first season. That first season was a remarkable one for me.

"I didn't feel I had any unfinished business to prove to English players, but I remember having to prove to the Everton players that I was a good player again.

"When you change club you come with a reputation, and I came with a reputation of having won many trophies. But I had to re-prove myself as a footballer to the players in the Everton dressing room.

"I think I did that. I had marvellous times at Everton and I fondly remember them."