Derek Mountfield has celebrated a landmark birthday in style – with a long holiday to the distant reaches of the southern hemisphere.
The popular former centre-half returned just before Christmas from a 40-day cruise booked to coincide with him turning 60.
Their ship sailed out of Venice and docked in Croatia, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion Island before reaching South Africa.
There, he and his wife Julia had a stop-off in Durban before spending four days in Cape Town, from where they flew home late last week.
“You only turn 60 once, so we decided to go for it along with a couple of friends,” Mountfield told us this week. “The price made it a bit of a steal considering everything we saw – many world heritage sites, plus snorkelling in several places and the chance to see Table Mountain and Robben Island.
“There were so many memorable visits, like the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Ancient Olympia. It really was a fantastic trip but we haven’t half noticed the cold since we got home!”
The trip of a lifetime meant he saw only parts of the World Cup and he added: “We saw the early England games but the signal was poor once we left Europe and went across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
“There was just a black screen on the day of the England v France quarter-final before the signal improved again as we approached South Africa.”
Mountfield was at the Boxing Day clash of two of his former clubs at Goodison Park, though, and we we were delighted to have a catch-up with him there on top of a Christmas Eve phone call designed to set up a meeting.
He entertained users of the Joe Mercer Suite in a q&a session before kick-off and spoke during it of his fond memories of a 91-match Molineux spell from 1991 to 1994 and his love of all things Everton.
“I was born a Blue, have always been a Blue and will die a Blue,” he said. “I feel so lucky to have had the chance to play for six years for this club and to be so successful with them.”
He played alongside goalscorer Andy Gray in the 1984 FA Cup final victory over Graham Taylor’s Watford, was in beaten Everton teams in the next two Wembley finals and helped Howard Kendall’s side win both the League Championship and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1984-85. He was again a League champion in 1986-87 and had the reputation as a scorer of frequent and important goals.
Mountfield was one of a considerable number of ex-Wolves and Everton players in attendance at the dramatic away win three days ago.
We also spotted Martin Dobson, Leon Osman, Joleon Lescott, Barry Horne, Alan Irvine and radio summariser Andy Thompson on the sidelines at Goodison Park, where former Wolves owner Steve Morgan was watching from the directors’ box.