If someone gazes at the Everton vs Chelsea game in years to come they will see the result ended in a 3-1 thriller which went in the Toffees’ favour.
But that would not tell the full story. Steven Naismith: the substitute and hat-trick hero. Not a bad early 29th birthday present was it?
Occasionally hidden gems can be found in unusual places. And that was what summed up Steven Naismith, as he grew up in the rural town of Stewarton, Ayrshire. However his talent was clear. This kid was going to be special. From the age of 14 he looked like he could have played for one of the Scottish giants: Rangers. Such is the cruel nature of the beautiful game, he was let go and not offered a post-16 scholarship.
Not to worry though as he would soon be picked up by another big Scottish team. Kilmarnock came calling and this time he had the ability to make it all the way. Less than two years after signing professional terms, he would make his debut for the Killie as he came on as a sub against Hibernian in a 2-0 victory.
From that moment onwards, his talent had caught the eyes of the punters. First team football would still be at a premium, but he would also be part of the under-19 side that would triumph in the Scottish Youth Cup. The next season he would score his first senior goal in a fixture against Hearts.
But the turning point in his career would come in the 2005-2006 season. A quite remarkable season propelled him into the attention of some of the greatest clubs in Scotland. Would it be time to say goodbye to Kilmarnock?
Less than a year later it would be. His destination would be a return to Ibrox. He put pen-to-paper just seconds before the summer transfer window of 2007 slammed shut. Less than 24 hours later, he would make his debut. Only weeks later he would have his first goal as well, scoring the first in a 3-0 victory against Aberdeen.
That was a defining point in his career. 21 appearances in that first season for the Gers established him as a first team regular. However, disaster struck for Naismith. St Johnstone were the opponents for Rangers in the 2008 Scottish Cup semi-final. It will be a day that that the Scot will never forget as he was stretchered off with a cruciate ligament injury.
He returned in January of 2009 and was then inspirational in the title run-in from that point on. It would not go in Rangers’ favour; however he would feature in the 2009 Scottish Cup final win over Falkirk. Things would go in his team’s favour though the next season as they cruised to the title by seven points; something Naismith played a key part in by making 28 appearances.
From 2010 onwards, financial problems made success hard to come by at Ibrox. And despite winning the 2010-11 Scottish Premiership, it was inevitable Naismith would leave to better things. It would come in England and Goodison Park where he would team up with his former team-mate Nikica Jelavic. Since signing in July 2012, he has been a first team regular as he appeared on frequent occasions off the bench.
The following season, despite manager David Moyes moving on to take his dream job at Old Trafford, the run to European football was set. And it involved Naismith. A new tactic developed by new manager Roberto Martinez would enable the Scotland international to play in a more central position in midfield. He thrived here as well and ever since has established himself as a key player in the Everton midfield – whether off the bench or in the starting XI.
This was shown in December 2014 when Naismith signed a new four-year deal at Goodison, showing he is an indispensable character within the Toffees’ changing room. But Saturday will go down as a highlight in his career. The substitute hat-trick hero. All in a day’s work for the Scot.