Everton cult hero Tony Hibbert opens up on his bizarre retirement U-turn to sign for French TENTH tier minnows ES Louzy as the 41-year-old explains he wanted a ‘new experience and tranquillity’ across the channel… where he now owns a fishing pond!
- Tony Hibbert is an Everton cult hero after spending 25 years at club from 1991
- But since 2016 retirement he has moved to France for brand new lifestyle
- Hibbert came out of retirement in November to join local side Louzy in tenth tier
- He has now become popular in the region having mixed in well with locals
Former Everton star Tony Hibbert has opened up on his surprise move to France where he has come out of retirement to play for tenth tier side Louzy.
Hibbert joined Everton as a ten-year-old in 1991 and after turning professional in 1998, featured regularly as a right-back until 2016 when he retired having played 328 games for the Toffees – and failing to score a single goal.
Everton fans would often joke ‘Hibbo scores we riot’. This led to a small pitch-invasion when he scored in a 4-1 win over AEK Athens in his testimonial back in 2012.
Tony Hibbert joined Everton, aged 10, and stayed for 25 years before retiring in 2016
He remains a huge cult favourite among Everton supporters but has left his life on Merseyside behind for a new adventure in France.
Hibbert signed for his new club in November, and admits he is happy with a much more relaxed lifestyle in Louzy where he owns a fishing pond in Villiers-en-Prayeres, near Reims.
‘[Louzy] is like day and night. That’s what I came for – tranquillity. I’m not here to retire but to do something different, a new experience, Hibbert told SoFoot.
‘With my wife, we searched everywhere in France… I know a few people who live not far from Louzy and we decided to try it.’
Hibbert features against Bournemouth in 2016 in his last game as a professional player
The right-back became a cult hero at Everton where he famously never scored a goal
‘I’m happy here. We laugh a lot, I enjoy spending lots of time with my children and I take the time to work on my business.’
Louzy’s club president Jerome Archambeau claimed Hibbert wanted zero fanfare on his arrival last year, but it didn’t stop fans bombarding the club’s Facebook account with excitement when his signing was confirmed – to the point they had to delete the post!
‘He didn’t want any media. He was clear’, Archambeau added. ‘The purpose of him coming here was for a change of scenery and to find peace. He didn’t want complete anonymity but he didn’t wish to make the front page of all the newspapers either.’
Hibbert faced the best during his career as he battles for the ball with Cristiano Ronaldo
‘After we posted on Facebook about his arrival, we were harassed constantly. We both couldn’t take it anymore.
‘We received many emails from English supporters, who wanted to buy Louzy jerseys… It’s completely crazy.’
While Hibbert’s struggles to learn French remain a challenge, he is a popular figure around the club, featuring in social events after training and playing cards with his team-mates.
Hibbert is also keen on passing on his professional skills, which still help him excel as a centre-back for his new side, to the club’s youth players.
‘He sometimes helps with the Under 13s,’ says Archambeau. ‘It’s a pleasure to see him speak to children, although the language is a barrier.
‘[He] clearly has that little something extra. We realise that, for him, it’s easy.’
While Archambeau dreams of a pre-season friendly with Everton to be set up, he admits he won’t chase the fixture at the expense of Hibbert’s wish for a quiet semi-retirement.
‘We don’t want to upset him. The goal is for him to be happy here.’