Former Everton midfielder Kilbane hails 'true captain' Phil Neville

The retired midfielder has saluted the 36-year-old as he prepares to leave Goodison Park, but believes the veteran can still play in the Premier League beyond this season
By Richard Buxton

Kevin Kilbane, a former Everton team-mate of Phil Neville, has hailed the midfielder's impact at Goodison Park as the veteran prepares to leave the club.

The 36-year-old joined the Toffees in the summer of 2005 from Manchester United and has announced his plans to leave the club when his current deal expires at the end of the season.

Neville is one of four graduates from United's illustrious class of 1992 still plying his trade at the highest level of the game, alongside former team-mates David Beckham - who is now with Paris Saint-Germain - Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes, who are both still regular fixtures at Old Trafford.

And Kilbane, who spent a year playing alongside Neville, insists the outgoing Everton captain's experience and mentality has been a vital ingredient to the upturn in fortunes at Goodison Park in recent years.

"He came from a really successful United team at that time and I think we recognised his professionalism, his attitude and we saw that very quickly," he told

"David Weir was captain when he first came in. It wasn't long after that David moved to Rangers so I think that he was probably the successor to that really.

"Because his experience at Man United and what he'd achieved in his career, I think it brought that winning mentality to the club as well and I think he's had really good success on the pitch at Everton. He's been a really good servant and a true captain for them."

Neville has previously hinted at moving down the football pyramid if it would prolong his playing career, but Kilbane feels his former team-mate would still have plenty to offer in the Premier League after his Everton departure.

"I think wherever he goes to he's going to find difficult because of the lengths he spent at the two clubs he's been at," he added.

"But he's going to bring professionalism, he's going to pass on knowledge to younger players, maybe to older players as well that might do things differently to him.

"That's what he can bring and I think that if he still feels as though he's got legs in him, I don't see any reason why not. He's certainly still got the ability and he's got the capabilities to do it, but it's just on what Phil wants to do.

"What I've found is when you're going down the leagues, it can be difficult. Whether that's the road or the path that he wants to take, I don't know

"I think probably staying in the Premier League would suit him better at his age."