Francis Jeffers has conceded that he was wrong to leave Everton for the Gunners in 2001, with a promising career never really recovering after that
Francis Jeffers has conceded that he was wrong to leave Everton for Arsenal in 2001, with the opportunity to join a Premier League heavyweight coming “too soon” for him.
Now back at Goodison Park as part of the coaching staff, Jeffers was considered to be a hot prospect when the Gunners acquired him from the Toffees for £8 million.
Arsene Wenger billed him as “the fox in the box” Arsenal needed to complement a star-studded array of attacking talent.
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Jeffers, though, struggled to make an impact as he competed with the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Sylvain Wiltord and Nwankwo Kane for regular game time.
He missed out on two FA Cup finals through injury and despite making a goalscoring debut for England’s senior side against Australia in 2003, left Arsenal in 2004 with his career hitting a downward curve.
Jeffers has now told Everton’s official website on a career-defining decision: “I’ve got to be really honest, looking back on my career I left the club too soon.
“[Arsenal] wasn’t the right move for me but it was a difficult time because of the way our Football Club was then, it wasn’t like it is now. It was a good move for me and the Club at the time but it was definitely too soon and probably the wrong move.
“I went from being a regular at Everton to going down there and not being able to get into the team.
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“When you’re sitting at home at think back at how your career’s gone, I feel my head was turned. I was only young. It was difficult because I felt Arsenal were the best team in the league at the time. I’d just watched them play Liverpool in the FA Cup final and absolutely battered them but came out losing the game.
“It was a tough decision for me because I’m an Evertonian, I’d been a season ticket holder all my life. It was a big decision but one that never worked out for me.”
Jeffers spent the best part of 10 years as a footballing nomad after leaving Arsenal, with spells at the likes of Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Motherwell and Newcastle Jets taken in before hanging up his boots after being released by Accrington Stanley in 2013.