The 9 Greatest Players to Wear Everton's Number 9 Shirt

Everton's rich history of success over the years has been in no small part helped by their tradition of brilliant number nines.

With Dominic Calvert-Lewin now donning the number - one that has had its reputation damaged in recent times - Everton fans will hope that the young striker can restore some of the prestige to the coveted shirt, in a time of improvement under new management and ownership.

​Here's a look at some of the names that made that number nine shirt so special in the first place.

Duncan Ferguson

Initially a loan signing from Rangers during of the 1994/95 season in a difficult period for Everton, Duncan Ferguson made an immediate impact, and would eventually sign for £4.4m.

The Scotsman scored the first goal in a 2-0 win over Liverpool on his full debut for the Toffees, which kick-started a three-game winning streak. His form would guide Everton to Premier League safety and an FA Cup semi-final, but injuries (and a prison sentence) would disrupt his second season with the club. And while he would recover his form over the coming seasons, Ferguson would ultimately sign for Newcastle in 1998, with then-Chairman Peter Johnson selling him without informing manager Walter Smith.

Ferguson, who had already become a cult hero among Everton fans thanks to his do-or-die attitude, returned to the club in 2000. And while his second spell proved that he was perhaps past his best, Ferguson had already cemented his legacy as a bright spark in one of Everton's darkest periods throughout the 90s.

Erratic, aggressive and a lover of sweatbands, 'Big Dunc' currently serves as Everton assistant manager and is by far one of the biggest characters to ever grace their number 9 shirt, even with nine red cards and a three-month prison sentence to his name.

Bob Latchford

Bob Latchford

From one of Everton's darker periods, to one of their brightest. Forward Bob Latchford was an ever-present and a constant goalscorer for Everton throughout the 1970s, bagging 138 goals in 268 appearances.

With an ability to score goals but also to create chances for teammates, Latchford was technically sound, speedy and was widely regarded as one of England's greatest strikers of his generation. 

He was the club's top goalscorer for four consecutive seasons , from 1975 to 1978. Despite this record, Latchford only managed a League Cup runners-up medal with Everton, his only piece of silverware with the club. 

Unfortunate to miss out on the success in the 1980s that would come to the club, his legacy as number nine cannot be forgotten.

Graeme Sharp

Graeme Sharp,Paul McGrath

While Bob Latchford was Everton's talisman through the 70s, the reigns were handed over to Graeme Sharp in the following decade.

Signing in 1980, Sharp initially struggled for a spot in the side during his first season in Merseyside, but found his feet in his second season, netting 15 goals in 29 league appearances. 

This was the start of an electric nine years with the Toffees, as Sharp's goals were key to a decade filled with silverware. Winning two First Division titles, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup, Sharp was instrumental and found success playing alongside the likes of Gary Lineker, Andy Gray and Adrian Heath.

With 160 goals in 447 appearances, Sharp currently holds the record for Everton's top goalscorer in post-war times, surpassing Bob Latchford. 

Joe Royle

David Unsworth,Joe Royle

Until the debut of James Vaughan in 2005, Joe Royle was the youngest player to ever make their senior debut for Everton, when he came on as a substitute against Blackpool in 1966 aged just 16 years old.

A young Royle had a tough time winning over the Evertonians at first, but his ruthless goal scoring, combined with a concrete mentality, saw him earn his stripes and carve his name into the team sheet. He went on to be the club's top scorer for five consecutive seasons throughout the late 1960s, and netted 23 times in the league as Everton won the First Division in the 1969/70 season. 

As Everton manager, Royle was responsible for signing Duncan Ferguson and kept the Toffees in the Premier League during a difficult spell in the mid-90s, even winning the FA Cup in 1995. 

Kevin Campbell

Everton v West Ham Kevin Campbell

Everton manager Walter Smith was desperate to keep the club in the top flight in 1999, but their fate was almost sealed. Struggling for funds and desperate for a new lease of life, he brought in former ​Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell on a loan deal from Trabzonspor that March, to the surprise of many. 

Eight games and nine goals later however, Everton were safe - all thanks to Campbell.

The forward went on to sign permanently with the Toffees, and remained a reliable goalscorer over a number of seasons despite injury troubles. 

With 83 Premier League goals, no Englishman has scored more top flight goals without earning an England cap.

Tony Cottee

Tony Cottee of Everton and Clive Wilson of Queen Park Rangers

One way to get yourself over with the fans - as they say in the land of pro wrestling - is to show your affection for your new club, and appreciate those that pay your wages. Another way is to bag a hat-trick on your debut. Striker Tony Cottee opted for the latter, bagging three against Newcastle, after signing for a record £2.2m in 1988.

Cottee arrived in an uncertain time for the Toffees; the 1980s had seen one of their most successful decades ever. The 90s however proved an entirely different struggle, with the club constantly facing the unthinkable prospect of relegation from the top flight. 

Cottee managed 99 goals in all competitions during his six-year stay with the Toffees, and 16 goals in his final season was pivotal to them avoiding relegation.

Tommy Lawton

Tommy Lawton

Football during wartime is a fascinating topic, to say the least.

Tommy Lawton is a prime example of a footballing career hindered by the outbreak of war, but will forever be an icon of that generation. Aged 17, he signed for Everton in a deal that also secured his grandfather a job as deputy groundsman at Goodison Park. Everton fans positioned Lawton as the heir to the throne which was at the time occupied by Dixie Dean.

While Dean promised to teach Lawton everything he knew, the pair managed to play together for a short while in the 1936/37 campaign. The following season, however, Lawton would oust Dean for the starting role and bagged 28 goals in 38 games. He would go one better in the 1938/39 season and score a staggering 34 goals in 38 games as Everton were crowned First Division champions.

World War II forced Lawton into service while playing for Everton and England was put on ice. With 65 league goals in 85 appearances, who knows what Tommy Lawton could've achieved as Everton number nine if the war hadn't interrupted his best years.

Dixie Dean

Dixie Dean,William Ralph Dean

Before Tommy Lawton and World War II was Dixie Dean, Everton's greatest football player ever.

Still holding the record for the club's all-time top goalscorer, Bill 'Dixie' Dean forged a legacy during his 12 years with Everton, where he netted 383 goals for the club.

Born in Birkenhead, Dean began his career with Tranmere Rovers before signing for the Toffees in 1925, for a fee of £3,000. He became Everton's first ever number nine, scoring 32 goals in his first season. That goal feat is nothing however when you compare it to his 1927/28 campaign, where Dean scored a record 60 league goals in one season, helping Everton win the First Division title. Dean further cemented his legend status at the club when he stayed with Everton after their relegation to the Second Division in 1930.

Unfortunately, Dean passed away in 1980, but his legacy will forever live on. In a time when we are blessed with watching footballers as good as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, neither of them have managed to eclipse his record of 60 league goals in a season. 

A statue of Dean stands outside Goodison Park, in memory of the greatest number nine in Everton, and perhaps even football history.

Source : 90min