No regrets as Everton's Steven Naismith chases Champions League spot

Written by Stephen Temlett.

By Stephen Temlett:
 
It’s the season of goodwill and we have seen both halves of the Old Firm visiting Yorkhill Children’s Hospital this week.

Away from the gift-giving at the children’s hospital, Everton’s Steven Naismith was giving the gift of a meal to homeless people in Glasgow.

The Toffees star was sponsoring a lunch at Renfield St. Stephen’s Church on behalf of the charity Loaves and Fishes.

Denis Curran, the Chairman of Loaves and Fishes, spoke about how much it meant to have a high-profile sportsman attending the dinner.

“I met Steven last year for the first time when he donated a meal. And before this was finished there was laughter in the hall. My wife phoned at twenty to seven and said “there’s people phoning up with donations”. My phone’s been going crazy today I’m getting about 12 calls and hour. This is a big, big thing in these people’s lives. Everyone in that hall wants to be able to say “I met Steven Naismith, oh I know him” and it’s something for them to enjoy.”
 
Naismith gave emotional press conference in summer

While it is not the biggest or most well-known charity it is a cause which Naismith feels strongly towards.

“It’s really important to me personally and my family. Since I’ve moved I’ve tried to look for something similar in Liverpool and that’s happening next week. Like Denis touched on the success last year brought for the charity is something that I want to stay involved with.”

This is always a time of the year when we see charity work labelled as a “token gesture” but this is a view that the ex-Rangers player completely disagrees with.

“I think there are a lot that footballers do that goes unnoticed and some people are happy to do their bit and not be noticed for it. I’ve came across a fair few generous people in my line of work.”

Naismith’s line of work is now, of course, with Everton in the Premier League and he is pleased with how he has begun his career at Goodison.

“It’s been a good productive start for me. In terms of the number of games I’ve played I could play more but I’m only just back from almost a year out with injury. I’ve managed to score a couple of goals and hopefully I’ll able to prove myself in the best league in the world.”

The best league in the world has lived up to the hype this year as we see one of the most competitive leagues in recent years. Everton currently sit fourth in the league and Naismith insists the competition for fourth is extremely close.

“In terms of teams that can get into the top four you can probably look at the top half of the league it’s that tight. The teams have been very consistent. The two Manchester clubs are making a gap for themselves but every year the teams get much stronger which makes the league so tight. You have to go into every game up for it.”

Everton are chasing that coveted fourth spot as well as the glory of European football that comes with it, and many sports betting sites are swiftly lowering their odds on it happening.

“We’re really confident we can get Champions League football and that belief has been there from the start of season. The manager has been on about the way the teams started because they haven’t started well in recent years but the first half of the season we’ve done really well.”

Life seems to have settled down for the striker after leaving Rangers in the summer. He still keeps an eye out for the Rangers results and while he was angered at having to leave he doesn’t hold too many regrets as far as his playing career is concerned but still feels for the fans.

“It has been a difficult time, mostly for the fans really. A year and a half ago who would have thought they would be in the bottom tier? But they’re sitting top of the league and the manager for the first time since he took charge can focus mainly on football.

“There was anger and frustration and its down to the fact the players were put in a situation that we didn’t want to be in and that the part that angered us all. We all had contracts for a few more years and there was a lot of things that could have been changed.

“I don’t regret moving on to further my career and still be involved in the international scene so from that perspective I don’t regret it too much”.

Despite Rangers current state the Scotland international says there is still so much admiration for the Old Firm across the border.

“The biggest thing that people talk about down south is how well both teams are supported. At the start of the season 'Gers had full crowds every game there was more fans at Ibrox on Saturday than the Manchester Derby. After Celtic beat Barcelona I went to training next day and all they could talk about was the fans and the noise.”

Naismith also revealed how much he has enjoyed working under boss David Moyes since he started.

“He’s probably the most thorough manager I’ve ever worked with. That’s from scouting other teams, scouting players he’ll sign to the training. He looks at a lot of videos and he’s on the ball with everything. He goes through every part. Every week he’s got a clear picture of how he wants to take on opponents. I’ve learnt so much in the four or five months I’ve been there.

In his four or five months his highlight is his goal in the crucial 2-2 draw with rivals Liverpool. Naismith has had his fair share of derby goals and compared his strike over Liverpool to an Old Firm goal.

“It was different in the Old Firm because I’ve been a fan and watched the games in the stands. The goal has done my relationship with the fans a good turn though. I’ve not played at my best since I joined Everton but that goal was something I was happy with and it wasn’t a bad goal for my first one and I’m hoping for a lot more.”
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