Everton cult hero Tony Hibbert opens up on his bizarre retirement reversal to sign for tenth-tier French minnows ES Louzy as the 41-year-old explains he wanted a ‘new experience and tranquillity’ across the English Channel… where he now owns a fishing pond!
- Tony Hibbert is an Everton cult hero having spent 25 years at the club from 1991
- But since retiring in 2016, he’s moved to France for a whole new lifestyle
- Hibbert came out of retirement in November to join local side Louzy in tenth tier
- It has now become popular in the area after mixing well with the locals
Former Everton star Tony Hibbert has opened up on his surprise move to France where he came out of retirement to play for Tenth Division Louzy.
Hibbert joined Everton aged ten in 1991 and after turning professional in 1998 he featured regularly as a right-back until 2016 when he retired after playing 328 games with the Toffees – and without scoring a single goal.
Everton fans often joked ‘Hibbo scores we riot’. It led to a minor invasion of the pitch when he scored in a 4-1 win against AEK Athens during his testimony in 2012.
Tony Hibbert joined Everton aged 10 and spent 25 years there before retiring in 2016
He remains a huge cult favorite 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 to being satisfied with a much more relaxed lifestyle in Louzy where he has a fishing pond in Villiers-en-Prayères, near Reims.
‘[Louzy] is like day and night. That’s what I came for: tranquility. 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.”
Hibbert playing against Bournemouth in 2016 in his last game as a professional player
The right-back became a cult hero at Everton where he never scored a goal
‘I’m happy here. We laugh a lot, I like to spend a lot of time with my children and I take time to work on my business.
Louzy club president Jérôme Archambeau claimed Hibbert wanted no fanfare when he arrived last year, but that didn’t stop fans bombarding the club’s Facebook account with enthusiasm when his signing was confirmed. – to the point that they had to delete the message!
“He didn’t want any media. He was clear, ”added Archambeau. “The purpose of his coming here was to change the scenery and find peace. He didn’t want complete anonymity, but he didn’t want all the headlines either.
Hibbert faced the best in his career as he battled for the ball with Cristiano Ronaldo
“After posting his arrival on Facebook, we were constantly harassed. We both couldn’t take it anymore.
“We received a lot of emails from English fans, who wanted to buy Louzy shirts… It’s completely crazy.”
While Hibbert’s difficulties in learning French remain a challenge, he is a popular figure at the club, attending social events after training and playing cards with his teammates.
Hibbert is also keen to pass on his professional skills, which always help him excel as a centre-back for his new team, to the young players at the club.
“He sometimes helps the under-13s,” says Archambeau. “It’s a pleasure to see him speak to the children, although the language is a barrier.
‘[He] clearly has that little something extra. We realize that, for him, it’s easy.
While Archambeau dreams of setting up a pre-season friendly with Everton, he admits he won’t go ahead with the game 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.