The Victoria Ground provided a fertile source of Goodison talent in the 1980s, and in swapping Stoke City for Everton, Neil Adams followed a tradition set by Adrian Heath and Paul Bracewell (via Sunderland).
After a hugely impressive debut season in the Potteries, Howard Kendall had deemed the 19-year-old a sound investment for the future, paying £150,000 in the summer of 1986.
An attacking midfielder with pace and skill, Adams was best suited to the right wing, but played through the middle as well. During his debut season he made enough appearances to earn a League Championship medal, and selection for the England under-21 team was just reward for a player who impressed in flashes. Alas for Adams, after Kendall’s departure in June 1987, he failed to find favour with Colin Harvey and his chances were subsequently limited. In January 1989 he joined Oldham Athletic on loan, a deal that was in June made permanent for a fee of £100,000. Ironically Trevor Steven had just left the club: who knows how Adams might have prospered given an extended chance in his place?
Adams described Everton as the best club he ever played for: ‘Everton was fantastic’
Certainly, Adams always did well when pitted against his former club. He won promotion with Oldham in 1991, and when facing Everton in February 1993 scored two late goals to earn a 2-2 draw. In summer 1994 he joined Norwich City and, as he did at Boundary Park, put in a solid five-year stint. He later returned to Oldham, and on his retirement joined Norwich as a youth coach.
At Carrow Road he was a well respected member of the club’s coaching team and following Chris Hughton’s dismissal as first team manager in April 2014 Adams was appointed caretaker and then permanent manager. He held the position until January 2015, whereupon he resigned, but returned to Norwich later that year to oversee the club’s player loans.
In 2008, Adams described Everton as the best club he ever played for: ‘Everton was fantastic, I was a young kid when I went to Everton, I was 19 years old. Everton at the time were the equivalent of Manchester United now, probably one of the best clubs in Europe. The dressing room banter at the time was phenomenal. Players will always tell you that the dressing room will get you half of the way there, obviously you have to have the talent or you won’t do it... Any team that has a bond in the side as we had at Everton... has a good chance.’