TONY HIBBERT admits he will be nervous before his testimonial against AEK Athens – but will be honoured to run out against the Greeks at Goodison.
The long-serving defender will be rewarded for more than 10 years’ of first-team service with a benefit match against the Greek giants at Goodison Park on August 8.
And on an evening where the loyal and unassuming 30-year-old will enjoy a deserved appreciation of his talents – it won’t only be Hibbert who benefits. Adults can watch the game for £15, under-15s and over-65s for £5, with a proportion of the funds going to charity.
The Huyton-born player has announced he will be donating a chunk of the proceeds to Claire’s House and the Rainbow Trust.
It is a gesture typical of a man humbled by the success he has enjoyed with a club he has always supported, joined as a child and debuted for in March 2001.
“It is a great honour for me,” said Hibbert, who picked Athens as opposition as they were the team he equalled the club record for European appearances against.
“It’s a great feeling to be up there with the legends and big names of Everton. I’ll definitely be nervous. I just hope someone turns up!
“My time at the club has flown by. I can remember when I made my debut. It’s my 11th year, going into my 12th. That is a long time and the club has changed an awful lot. We’ve seen all the changes and a lot of people come and go.
“When you sit down and think about it, it’s a very long time. I’m just happy that I’ve been here for that long.”
Hibbert has long been synonymous with the Blues and is often hailed by team-mates as epitomising the club’s identity. A member of the FA Youth Cup-winning team of 1998, he has made more than 300 appearances for his boyhood team.