Ben Godfrey was dissuaded from pursuing rugby league any further as a child after being “smashed hard” in a tackle.

But now, as a professional footballer, he's putting opposition forwards off with the similar tactics.

There was already a growing belief among Evertonians that the club had made a shrewd move in signing Godfrey from Norwich City in October, when their suspicions were confirmed as the ball rolled invitingly, just outside of the box, in front of the Gwladys Street.

A heavy touch from Arsenal's Dani Ceballos opened the door for Godfery, playing at left-back, to win the ball. He took ball, and then a little bit of the man. A firm but fair challenge and the type that the Goodison crowd loves to see.

“I played rugby before football when I was a kid,” he said.

“I joined the local rugby team [Heworth Rugby Club] I was only four or five and they didn't have an age group for me back then so I played up a couple of years.

"My mum and myself were begging them to let me join them so I played with them for a little while before I realised it wasn't for me.

"I think someone must have smashed me that hard I went into football! Something changed my mind and it went from there.”

Godfrey laughs when the conversation is quickly turned to the subject of him dishing out the unforgiving challenges and how well it was received.

“I don't's just something that's in my game,” he says, smiling.

“It has been throughout my life, really. As a young lad as well, I've enjoyed flying into tackles but unfortunately, you see it leave the game slowly and I've had to adapt to that as well to keep myself within the laws of the game.

"It is slowly disappearing, which is sad, but I think it is something that Everton fans can expect more of and look forward to, because it's something I look forward to as well.”

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“I saw the club re-posted the video of the tackle, and tagged me in on social media, which was a laugh,” he added.

“I try and stay away from too many of the things on Twitter and other social media but my mates were having a laugh with it, and enjoyed some of it on there. That was funny for them.

“It's nice when fans are on the same sort of page as myself in terms of the morals of the game: hard work, tackles and stuff like that. It's nice to have that connection with them, it's good.”

Godfrey is then asked about the art of tackling within the rules of the game, but ensuring it has the desired impact.

He is trying to speak diplomatically.

“A tackle that is strong on your opponent… I am trying to put this into the right words now… it does play on the mind a bit,” he said.

“It gets fans going, home or away. It gets team-mates going as well. It sort of sets the pace and tempo of the game in my opinion. And that is something I have believed my whole life.

"If you can make a tackle strong enough to affect the opponent's mindset for a few minutes you are one over on them. It might be old-fashioned but it is something I believe in and will continue to do so.”

So did that tackle on Ceballos, who clutched his ankle and rolled around in agony afterwards, have the desired results?

“Yeah definitely. I remember – it should've been a goal kick actually! - but we had to defend a corner after that tackle and the boys, they were buzzing with it, they were happy,” he said.

“And it almost like someone else wants to do one, it lifts you and it lifted the fans, and that is important in games, especially when you're battling in the Premier League because every, little per cent matters.”

The challenge has been one of, several, highlights on Godfrey's reel since he was plunged into the derby on October 17, replacing the injured Seamus Coleman at Goodison.

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Since that game, he has started all but one of the 13 league and cup matches in which he was available. He is expected to start, at left-back, against Sheffield Wednesday this evening in the FA Cup.

“I didn't sign for Everton and think, instantly, I would be in the starting XI,” the 23-year-old says.

“I think that's natural for anyone going through the pathway I went through and the jump, essentially, from the Championship to a massive club like this, is you can't just expect to walk into a team.

“But my mindset was always the second I walked through the door I would chip away and work until I do get in and do become a regular.

“To play the amount of games I have done in this amount of time, I am so grateful for it. It's been massive, it's been a learning curve as well. I'm enjoying it and you're not always guaranteed to play week in, week out and I'm enjoying it and learning everyday.”

His education has been accelerated by being asked to play in a variety of positions since joining the club.

Godfrey has played left-back, right-back, in a back three and at the heart of a back four following his £20m switch.

He played in central midfield when on loan at Shrewsbury earlier in his career and though centre-back is, ultimately, where he believes he will spend the majority of his best years, Godfrey says Ancelotti has moved to reassure him.

“Yeah, his CV is unbelievable and that plays a massive factor in that you trust what he says and does,” he says.

“I have been trying to soak up everything I can working under him. He stressed to me that some of the best centre-backs that have ever been around have played in other positions when they were younger. It can only help you learn. That is what I am trying to do at the minute so if I do go back into the centre-back role my experience at left-back and right-back will have made me a better player.”

Wherever he plays, don't expect Godfrey to hold back when challenging for the ball.