EVERTON legend Dave Hickson has thanked well-wishers and hospital staff as he takes his first steps along the road to recovery following a major heart attack.
The 78-year-old is back at his Great Sutton home for Christmas just weeks after he collapsed at Goodison Park 45 minutes before the Toffees’ 7-1 demolition of Sunderland on November 24.
Hickson, who works for Everton as a hospitality matchday host, said: “I’m fine now. I am taking small steps, though – taking it easy as the doctors say.
“I haven’t been back to Goodison to work yet but I am hoping to go to watch as a fan on Boxing Day.”
As he lay waiting for paramedics, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright – who has always named Hickson as his hero – sat distraught with him. But the veteran Goodison icon was reportedly conscious and worrying more about the fans who he had to sort out with signed balls and shirts than his own health.
Hickson was taken to the Royal Liverpool Hospital before being transferred to Broadgreen, one of Europe’s top heart specialist hospitals.
“I cannot thank the nursing and medical staff at those two hospitals enough,” he said. “At both places they were absolutely fantastic. I was in for just over a fortnight and I have never had to spend that much time in hospital.
“The staff were fantastic. They don’t do it for the money, they do it for the love of the job.”
While in hospital, Hickson received messages of goodwill from fans of all his former clubs including Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers. He is still the only player to represent the three main Merseyside clubs.
Nicknamed the Cannonball Kid due to the aggressive style of play and powerful shot, the centre-forward learned from his coach Dixie Dean while he was a youngster at Everton. He was popular with fans wherever he went.
Quiet and unassuming off the pitch, Hickson still ran into trouble on it where officials punished him frequently for his robust approach.
Nevertheless, he made 139 appearances for the Toffees, scoring 63 goals and in his career totted up 404 games and 182 goals.
He is still adored at Goodison Park and had to make a plea 11 days into his recovery for fans to stop visiting him in person. While he appreciated their concern, his doctors were not sure the attention was helpful.
“My daughter brought me a couple hundred of the messages sent by well-wishers, though,” said Hickson, who also turned out for Ellesmere Port Town during his playing days. “It was overwhelming and much appreciated.
“Everyone has been so kind and I can only thank them for all their good wishes and gestures.”