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Alec's delighted for his former club Everton

15 May 2005

Watford goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain says he is delighted that his former club, Everton, have qualified for next season's Champions League tournament.

Alec spent a season at Goodison Park as number two to former Welsh international Neville Southall, and says the experience helped springboard his own career to new heights.

"Forget what happened at Arsenal in the week, Everton are there on merit, and it's great to see them back amongst the elite," said Alec. "They're a big club with fantastic support, and they have had a very good season. Finishing fourth is a credit to the team and to the fantastic job David Moyes has done.

"At the start of the season people were writing them off and talking about them struggling around the bottom half of the table after Wayne Rooney left for Manchester United. Then they lost Thomas Graveson to Real Madrid midway through the season, but they kept battling away, getting the results and this is their reward."

Alec joined Everton from Colchester in 1987 after they had won their second Championship title in three seasons. But English clubs were banned from playing European competition at that time following the Heysel Stadium tragedy two years earlier, so they never got the opportunity to match up against the best teams in Europe, which was a shame, because I'm sure they would have done really well.

"Obviously I realised my chances of first team football at Everton would be limited because at the time Nev was one of the best 'keepers in the world, let alone the country, but it was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn from the best and develop my game," said Alec.

"I was on the subs bench for the Charity Shield match against Coventry - the FA Cup winners of that year - at Wembley, so that was an exciting start, and for me it was a whole different environment to what i'd been used to as a Fourth Division player with Colchester, and I mean that with no disrespect to Colchester.

"For me, it was like entering a new World: from the training facilities to the lifestyle of the players - and remember in those days Everton had names like Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, Trevor Steven, Graeme Sharp and Kevin Sheedy to name but a few, and all of them top class internationals.

"The following year I joined Luton, who were then in the First Division, and within months I was playing myself at the top level, and I have no doubt that the year at Everton played a big part in helping me establish myself as a goalkeeper playing regularly at the highest level.

"You always have a soft spot for your previous clubs, especially because you make friends while you're there, as I did at Everton - so I always keep an eye out for their results, and as I say, I'm delighted they've had such a great season, and will be wishing them well when they start their Champions League campaign in August."

Written by Peter Jones, of the PR consultancy Red Alert Media.

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