The Republic of Ireland international may have experienced the grand emotions of scoring for Manchester United in a quarter and semi-final of the competition, but admits he would love nothing more than simply running out in a group stage match at Goodison Park. For Gibson – whose love affair with games under the Goodison floodlights started almost a year ago when he scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Manchester City – the Old Lady would be an extra special stage to host some of Europe’s top clubs. And although he is trying to keep his dreams in check, Everton’s impressive start to the season has made the Derry-born player believe it might just be possible.
“Could you imagine Real Madrid or Barcelona coming for a Champions League game?,” says the 25-year-old.
“The atmosphere at Goodison would be frightening.
“It’s unbelievable for just a Premier League game so imagine what the atmosphere would be like if we made it into the Champions League.
“It would be massive for the club. We’re genuinely just taking it on a game by game basis at the moment and not over thinking it, but if we keep playing well I think we’ll be up there at the end of the season.”
The genuine excitement in his voice belies a young man who has already played in some huge games during his career, but there has been a sense of starting over for Gibson since his £250,000 switch from Manchester United last January. Memories of that 2010 long-range goal in the quarter-finals against Bayern Munich and a strike in the 2011 semi against Schalke will always be with him, but he would dearly love to begin a fresh chapter in the competition wearing royal blue.
“(The Bayern goal) was a highlight of my career but it probably would have been a bit sweeter if we’d gone through,” said Gibson.
“To play in it again next season is a massive ask but it’s important for everyone at the club because we all want to take Everton forward and improve. Europa League would be a big step.
“If we could get that fourth place I’d savour it, we all would, but I don’t think we’re setting it in stone as a target. We just need to keep putting points on the board. Fingers crossed at the end of the season we can be in there.”
Gibson’s arrival a year ago helped kick-start a positive and potentially definitive year in David Moyes’ Goodison reign, and the midfielder says he has thoroughly enjoyed it so far.