Ex-defender admits time at Liverpool was special, claims he is still a favourite of both Merseyside clubs

Abel Xavier is the last player to move directly between Everton and Liverpool but says he is still well-respected by fans of both clubs.

Former Liverpool and Everton defender Abel Xavier has told the Reds' official website that his time at Anfield was "special" but insists that he is still a favourite of supporters of both Merseyside clubs.

The ex-Portuguese international is the most recent player to move directly between the rivals when he joined Liverpool in January 2002 after just over two years with the Toffees, for whom he turned out 48 times in total.

The full-back, instantly recognisable for his bleached blond hair, played only 21 times for the Reds after falling out with then-manager Gerard Houllier before being loaned to Galatasaray and then sold to Hannover in the summer of 2003.

However, the 43-year-old nevertheless looks back on his time at Anfield with fondness, and claims that despite his controversial move he is still highly-regarded by fans of both Merseyside clubs.

He told Liverpool's official website: "It was a great time considering I came in from the rivals. You need to have the free mind to make decisions and I did it.

"When I’m back in Liverpool, I’m well-respected by Evertonians and Reds, that is something that doesn’t happen often. It was satisfying in my mind when I played in the derby that I was not booed by the fans.

“To play in the Champions League at Anfield, [I] miss the crowd singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It’s something that if you are on the pitch then you will never forget. Liverpool, for me, was really special."

Xavier certainly made an impact during his four years on Merseyside, becoming something of a cult hero at both Goodison Park and Anfield despite his limited success on the pitch.

That was just one chapter in a rather nomadic career for the eccentric defender, who also played in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, and in MLS with La Galaxy in his 18 years as a professional.

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