David Ginola arrived at Goodison Park in the dying days of Walter Smith’s managerial reign and as his own distinguished career was drawing to its close. In his heyday a tall, powerful, yet flamboyant and formidably gifted winger, Ginola had been one of the first high-profile foreigners to play in the Premier League.
A former French Footballer of the Year and France international, Ginola joined Newcastle in 1995, where he spent two successful seasons before joining Tottenham in a £2.5million deal. Ginola won the Football Writers’ and PFA Player of the Year awards in 1999, but was sold to Aston Villa the following year in a £3million deal. Now aged 33, he struggled at Villa Park, and after falling foul of Villa’s manager, John Gregory, was allowed to join Everton on a free transfer in February 2002.
The sight of an aged Ginola in a blue shirt seemed to represent a final and desperate throw of the dice for Smith’s ailing regime. To many Evertonians it was another low and symbolised all their manager’s shortcomings, for he was always a man more comfortable giving opportunities to ageing professionals than investing his faith in youth.
GINOLA MADE just four starts in a blue shirt, and was unable to save Smith, who was fired less than five weeks after his arrival. After a final substitute appearance on the last day of the 2001/02 season, Ginola announced his retirement. He has subsequently carved out a post-football career as a pundit, actor and vintner.