Everton loan star Conor Coady is loving life at his new club and plying his trade in front of the ‘amazing’ support at Goodison Park.
The 29-year-old may be a lifelong Red, and a graduate of Liverpool FC’s academy with two senior appearances to his name, but he is more than happy to embrace the blue half of the city, now.
In fact, Coady thinks it’s odd anyone would question his desire to play for the Toffees, despite his connection to their rivals. He insists he did not hesitate when signing for the grand old team or about celebrating enthusiastically when he thought he had nicked a winner in the Merseyside derby.
Conor Coady is enjoying life at Goodison Park and enjoyed netting against Liverpool
However, his close range effort on 70 minutes was disallowed for offside by VAR
Not for him, the ‘non celebration’ celebration as he wheeled away ecstatic and wide-eyed after tapping home after 70 minutes, albeit for the ‘goal’ to be disallowed for offside following a VAR check.
FOOTBALL FOR CHANGE
Football for Change was launched last year by Jamie Carragher, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to help young people from social and economically challenged backgrounds build better futures
A major social mobility initiative backed by football superstars, including Gary Neville, Jude Bellingham, Steven Gerrard, Anthony Gordon, Lucas Moura, Peter Crouch and Alan Shearer. the campaign has also joined forces with Noel Gallagher who headlined a spectacular fundraising event in Manchester.
The event raised up to £350,000, although Coady was unable to attend because he was on international duty with England.
‘We are trying our best to help young disadvantaged people to have a better life,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘And it is important we keep trying to push it.
Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit Carragher, who is the chairman of FFC, has been a driving force behind the charitable crusade which aims to lift young people from disadvantaged backgrounds out of poverty with life-changing opportunities in education and employment.
Sir Rod Stewart is patron of the initiative.
Since launching in November last year, Football For Change has raised £350,000 and is aiming to double that at next week’s star-studded fundraiser.
Noel Gallagher with his High Flying Birds and Melanie C provided entertainment at the gala event. Vernon Kay hosed while exclusive money-can’t-buy lots have been donated for a live auction by David Beckham, Formula 1, Robbie Williams, Calvin Harris and BT Sport.
Football legends, business leaders and celebrities attended the event which was sponsored by Swinton Insurance.
In fact, the clear minded Coady, feels it is a honour to represent Everton, he is grateful for the chance and he is determined to give the club his all for the club.
‘A lot of people ask me about scoring against Liverpool [including this reporter] and to be honest, I think it is a daft question,’ Coady told Sportsmail.
‘I have played football for a long time now and the one thing I give to any club I am playing for is everything every single day of my life. I’ll push that club and try to make the people around me better.’
Nobody in football would quibble with that. The centre-back, who was born in St Helens, was a surprise transfer this summer when Wolves boss Bruno Lage let him leave Molineux, where he had given seven years excellent service.
At the time it was rumoured that Lage did not fancy Coady in a back four, although it does not seem to have been a problem for the England international at Goodison Park.
Coady’s move back to Merseyside raised a few eyebrows, not least because he has done so well at Wolves, clocking up 317 appearances, but also because the destination was Goodison Park.
The player himself, however, was thrilled with the deal and he is making the most of it. His contributions haven’t gone unnoticed by Evertonians, either, who clearly value their new recruit, who has helped bring greater stability to the Toffees defence.
They will also appreciate Coady’s humility and passion to succeed and improve himself and everyone around him.
‘I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to play for Everton Football Club and when that opportunity came, I did not want to let it go,’ he said.
‘Going into that club it was about repaying everything they asked of me and giving the chance for me to go there.’
Coady’s reaction to the ‘goal’ in the Merseyside derby stems from the work he and the team are putting in to improve performances.
‘I know how big Merseyside derbies are, I grew up with them, I know what they are about, I know how big they are for Everton Football Club and we spoke about it before that game. It is a massive game for Evertonians, a massive game for the manager and the players.
‘So, to have that feeling at the time [when the ball hit the back of the net], bearing in mind it got taken away, it was one of the best feelings I ever had in football, I’ll be honest. I am giving my all for that club every single day.’
No wonder manager Frank Lampard loves him. The former Chelsea boss has spoken in glowing terms of Coady’s influence, not just on the pitch but all around the club, in helping others to focus on the job in hand, which is to win.
Coady has won the trust of manager Frank Lampard, who gave him the captain’s armband
Lampard rewarded Coady with the captain’s armband for the home game against West Ham United, when club skipper Jordan Pickford was side-lined with injury. It is unusual to give the honour to a loan player, but it merely underlines how Coady has gripped his chance at Goodison Park, and the impact he has made.
‘[It was] an easy decision because he is a great lad, he has a great attitude, and he is a great communicator and he has added so much to the dressing room,’ Lampard reflected after the game.
Mind you, Coady has plenty of experience. He had the armband at Wolves for four years.
While vocal, Coady’s approach is not critical of team mates. At matches without fans during the Covid pandemic, he could be heard booming instructions, organising, cajoling encouraging his team mates.
And at Everton Coady has found the perfect partner in James Tarkowski. The former Burnley defender has a similar positive attitude towards the game and colleagues. He is also good on the ball and tough in the tackle, attributes Coady warmly appreciates.
Coady has also struck up a good relationship with centre back partner, James Tarkowski
The pair have been lauded by the Premier League’s all-time top scorer, Alan Shearer.
‘They are at least a seven or eight out of 10 every week. They are reliable, you know what you are going to get and [opponents] will have to play well to get something.
‘Those two centre halves are very experienced. Very vocal. If one of them makes a mistake [the other] has got his back,’ told the BBC.
Indeed, a bromance is blossoming at the heart of Everton’s defence.
‘He is a fantastic player,’ said Coady when asked for the secret of their impressive partnership.
Everton have only shipped six goals in the Premier League this season, just one more than the most miserly defence at Brighton, who have conceded five. Not only that they have recorded consecutive clean sheets in the top flight for the first time since May 2021, which is a statistic they will hope to build on when they travel to Southampton on October 1.
Like Tarkowski, Coady is an good organiser and they have brought some stability to Everton
They may have ridden their luck on a few occasions, but there is never any panic with Coady and Tarkowski.
‘He is someone I have known throughout my time in football,’ explained Coady. ‘We are similar in age; I have played against him a lot when he was at Burnley
‘I knew before going to Everton how good a defender he was but I also learned what a fantastic person he is, someone who is outstanding for the dressing room and the club.
‘He is a real pleasure to be around. I enjoy playing with him and spending time with him every day. He is a fantastic footballer as well. We keep on pushing each other as much as we possibly can.
The dynamics of a football team, any team, are complex but it seems obvious that this pair have a very positive influence on Everton’s full backs, Vitaliy Mykolenko, 23, and the youngster Nathan Patterson, 20, who, in particular, is excelling.
The defender is focused on winning and pushing his team mates to higher levels
A moment in the hard-fought 1-0 win over West Ham United epitomised their influence. Patterson and another young player, Anthony Gordon, combined to stop a cross and immediately and in unison, Coady and Tarkowski had their hands above their heads applauding loudly and shouting their appreciation for the youngsters’ efforts. That must feel good.
As Shearer indicated on MOTD, the pair compliment each other. The statistics reveal Tarkowski is all action, the more likely to go to the ball, recording 47 tackles, interceptions and blocks this season to Coady’s 16, but the latter is always on the cover, ever watchful for unseen danger, and it works.
‘We don’t sit down and say you do this and I’ll do that, I think we play to our strengths… and we help each other at the same time,’ Coady explained.
Everton fans have had thin pickings in recent seasons, but they have never lost their appreciation of a player willing to give it all for the cause, and they have that in Coady.
For his part he is greatly enjoying the experience.
‘It is amazing,’ Coady admitted. ‘I have played at Goodison Park plenty of times over the years and I knew how hard it can be going there and it is important we use Goodison Park and use the support to our advantage.
‘The atmosphere around Goodison in recent weeks it makes it so tough for the opposition. We all know how passionate Evertonians.’
And so is Coady. They are a good match.