KITTED out in the new Everton training gear, Steven Naismith reveals his tattooed legs.
They are a tribute to the loved ones in his life but it is two marks on either knee which are a constant reminder that he must also cherish his profession.
Football, though richly rewarding for many, can be fickle and cut a player down in his prime.
Naismith, who joined the Blues on a free transfer this week, has not kicked a ball in competitive action since suffering cruciate ligament damage in October last year.
It was the second such injury the former Kilmarnock man had sustained in as many years, interrupting his progression at Glasgow Rangers and for Scotland.
But having officially been presented to the media as Everton’s first signing of the summer, Naismith has allayed fears his knees are a ticking timebomb.
The club conducted a thorough medical and found no cause for concern with Naismith also reinforcing his fitness and declaring his full intention to be ready for the start of the new Premier League season.
But given the set-backs the 25-year-old has endured in recent times, he knows that opportunities are to be seized and though he would not have wished for the manner in which it came about, any chance to play in England was not to be ignored.
“Football is a relatively short career and you have to maximise that and this is another step forward for me,” he said.
“We are just getting checked over and seeing what stage I was at (with his knee); yesterday afternoon I went out training with the squad.
“We’ll keep an eye on it over pre-season but hopefully I’ll be involved with the majority of things with the squad.”
Naismith believes he is joining a group of talented players.
And though he sees proven ability he knows his versatility will open doors at Goodison Park and that he will find like-minded individuals.
None more so than the manager David Moyes.
Naismith said it did not take long for the Blues boss to persuade him that Everton, and not Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion or Wigan Athletic, was the right move.
“It’s his presence,” he said of Moyes.
“He has a good presence about him. When he walks in the room you know the manager is there. You can go and chat to him. He will bring you on as a player. The way he works is a factor for me. He expects 100% and that’s what I do as well. It definitely looks like a good match
“I spoke to a few managers and I’m grateful for their interest and the opportunities they were going to give me, but speaking to the manager and people around Everton it was clear it was definitely the right club for me.
“As a player, I strive to give my best and work my hardest and I’d expect that from my team-mates. I expected that at Rangers and watching Everton they have got that. Everybody works for each other, not as individuals. They want to win as a team and be successful as a team. That’s a big draw to me. I’m in that same kind of mould. Speaking to the manager, he says a lot of things that I believe in.
“It is a quality squad but I am definitely going to get opportunities and it is my goal to take them,” he added.
“The players here will make me a better player. I have confidence in my own ability and am confident I can do it at the highest level and with the help of my team-mates hopefully we can start the season quickly.
“I’m coming to the best league in the world and I need to prove myself and it is a challenge I am definitely up for.
“You only have to look at the teams pushing for the title last season and those clubs behind them pushing for European places - it is a great league and one I am relishing the opportunity to play in.
“Under the manager’s leadership over the last 10 years Everton have been one of the most successful clubs in terms of growing and the facilities are world class.
“I think last season showed that, finishing seventh in the world’s best league and above your nearest rivals and doing quite well in the cups. It is what every player strives for.
“I have heard a lot from various people who have been in contact with the club over the last few years and there are some great guys in the squad.”
Should he prove his fitness then an Everton debut could arrive on the opening weekend of the season when Everton host Manchester United on Monday, August 20.
It remains a stand-out fixture of any season though Naismith admits not to have studied the Blues’ run of games.
“I’ve tasted the Old Firm derbies so it’ll be good to hopefully taste the Merseyside one,” he said.
“But I’ve not sat and looked at the fixtures. I’m sure every week will be a new challenge and one I will relish.”