Hughes reveals he was set to arrive at Everton five years earlier
Goalkeeper Nigel Martyn ended up joining Everton seven years too late in 2003 after a move to Goodison famously fell through in 1996 when Peter Johnson’s right hand man Clifford Finch gave him directions how to get to Leeds – for whom he promptly signed!
Despite his advanced years, the Cornishman was still dubbed by manager David Moyes as his best signing for the Blues.
Although also popular with the Gwladys Street faithful during his time at the club, the once prolific marksman Mark Hughes was winding down by the time he signed for Everton under Walter Smith in 2000.
The Welshman himself – who grabbed 163 goals for Manchester United over two spells but netted just once in 19 outings for the Blues – has told the club’s website that he was at “the fag end of my career” when he arrived.
Indeed his hair was already grey and Hughes was combining his playing duties with being manager of his country.
He had however, been close to joining Everton some five years earlier, only for the deal to be scuppered by an injury to himself and a moment of madness from Eric Cantona.
“By all accounts, the deal had been done.
“No one had told me, by the way. But, apparently, that’s what was going to happen.
“United had signed Andy Cole and the idea was that Eric and Coley were going to carry the baton forwards.
“I was 31, which is no age, really, but there you go.
“Fergie [United manager Alex Ferguson] wanted a bit of value back from any player he sold, so that was the thinking behind it.
“The Newcastle keeper (the late Pavel Srnicek) came out and sliced my knee, so I was out for a number of weeks.
“In that time Eric had his little episode at Crystal Palace where he jumped in the crowd.
“I think the club didn’t expect Eric to come back – and I didn’t, either.
“They offered me another contract and I signed it.
“That’s where the Everton move fell down.
“I was pleased when I had the opportunity again. I always felt it was a club I’d enjoy being part of and that was the case.”