TONY HIBBERT hopes Everton win a penalty during his testimonial against AEK Athens – so he can finally break his goal-scoring duck.
The veteran defender will be honoured with a special fixture against the Greek giants on August 8, as reward for his 10 years of first team football at Goodison Park.
Hibbert, 31, surpassed a personal milestone of 300 appearances for the Toffees last season, and while he never even envisaged having a testimonial, he admits he will step forward during the showcase if Everton get a spot-kick.
“The crowd wouldn’t leave the stadium if I didn’t take it,” said Hibbert. “I think I will step forward if we get a penalty.
“It’s only when I sit down and think about it that I realise that it was a long time ago I made my debut.
“When I made my debut I never considered that I’d be at the club for another 10 or 11 years.
“There are a few players recently who have had testimonials but it is becoming more rare that you hear of a player being at a club for 10 years.”
Born in Huyton, Hibbert joined Everton at youth level and was a member of the Toffees’ 1998 FA Youth Cup-winning side.
He went on to make his full debut in March 2001 as Everton defeated West Ham 2-0 at Upton Park and last season surpassed a personal milestone of 300 appearances for the club.
The only previous meetings with AEK Athens came during the Europa League group stage in the 2009/10 season.
A 4-0 win at Goodison was followed by a 1-0 victory in Greece – a game in which Hibbert made his 18th European appearance and thus equal a club record.
“They were good games to play in and I enjoyed them,” he said. “It’s nice to play against a team I’ve played before and I hope it’s a good game and a good night.
“I played centre-half over there and we got a good result that clinched our progress from the Group stage of the competition so I’ve got good memories of them.
“Night games at Goodison can be special. It’s a midweek, it’s the only summer home game so hopefully the fans will enjoy it.”
Hibbert has been relaxing so far as he prepares for pre-season, but has found time to tune into the Euro 2012 action so far.
He added: “It’s nice to have a rest and relax with the family but the pre-season is coming up quickly now so it’s time to start thinking about that.
“I watched England against France and I thought they did well. I watched Croatia versus Ireland too and Nikica Jelavic did well. I knew he’d score goals in the Euros and it was only a matter of time before he did. I think he’ll be one of the top goalscorers over there.”
The kick-off time and ticketing details for Hibbert’s testimonial will be announced soon.