When Everton signed Andy Van Der Meyde from Inter Milan in 2005 it was something of a coup. The Dutch international was highly rated and despite a difficult time in Milan he was well remembered for his time at Ajax and gained notoriety for his ‘Sniper’ celebration.
His time at Everton was fraught with controversy. His relationship with David Moyes was strained to say the least. As anybody will know no matter how talented a player is crossing Moyes can be just as similar to a P45 as it would be to cross the famous Scot he is destined to succeed. If you don’t believe me track down Jesper Blomqvist and ask how far he got when he argued with Moyes.
For Van Der Meyde the move to Everton spelled the end of his career, as he succinctly summed up in an interview with The Times in December:
‘’When I was at Ajax, I never even drank alcohol; it was the same at Inter. My team-mates would go out to a club, but I didn’t even know they existed. That changed at Everton.’’
After being released by The Toffees he remained in Liverpool but things spiralled further:
‘’I started doing cocaine. I looked at myself and asked what I was doing. I thought being in Liverpool would kill me. I needed to go home. So I left everything behind and went back to Holland. Within three days, I had signed with PSV Eindhoven.’’
So when Van Der Meyde caught wind of Royston Drenthe’s potential move to Everton he was quick to get his number from former team-mate Jonny Heitinga; to give him the advice he once wishes was given to him before he decided to join Everton; that Liverpool is not a city for the likes of these mercurial footballing mavericks.
A report in Dutch publication HP Detijd details some of the conversations the two had before Drenthe moved to Everton, including this plea from Van Der Meyde:
"Do not do it boy, I beg you, do not do it. Liverpool has too many temptations for guys like us. Before you know it you will be dragged into the nightclubs. There Bacardi flows and you can ski on cocaine; and the women, Royston. Oh man, oh man, oh man. Those British women with their short skirts.’’
Drenthe assured Van Der Meyde that he was going to Goodison simply to play football, with a dream of playing at the European Championships in the summer. At first that seemed to add up as Drenthe showed glimpses of the talent that first brought him to the world’s attention at the 2007 under-21 European Championships.
As time went on however his discipline failed him again and Everton lost patience; Moyes exiled him from the first team and in the summer showed no interest in pursuing a permanent deal. He found himself without a club and without many suitors after his behaviour in Liverpool. He had not heeded the advice of a trusty old head but he would not make the same mistake again.
The two had remained in touch after that initial conversation in 2011 and when Drenthe found himself considering leaving behind footballing exile for a resurrection with Russian side Alania Vladikavkaz in December he knew there was one man he could count on for a true opinion on his future.
"Do you know if there's anything to do in Vladikavkaz?’’ Read the text Drenthe sent to Van Der Meyde.
Not even 24 hours later Van Der Meyde is said to have been checking into a hotel in the city and preparing to hit the town.
Three days of research later and he responds to Drenthe’s plea for help:
‘’No nothing to do. Ugly women. The coast is clear.’’
On February 2nd Drenthe officially signed a deal to become an Alania player and help them fight a Russian relegation battle in the relative piece of a city lying in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and if it can be the first run of the ladder toward this 25-year-old turning his career around then he will have much to owe a fellow former Evertonian who struggled to handle the lifestyle of a Premier League footballer in a burgeoning party town like Liverpool.
What do you make of the relationship between these two Everton flops?
image: © juanjaen