Practically a dying breed at the top level of English football, Leon Osman rose through the youth ranks at Everton FC, and bearing two short loan spells at Carlisle and Derby County early doors in his career, he has gone on to be an increasingly rare one-club-player.
On Saturday 23rd November 2014, Osman notched 400 career appearance for the Toffees, topping off the impressive milestone with a characteristically smart goal in front of the home end to ignite passionate celebrations all round. Testament to the character of Osman, in his post match interview with Match of the Day, ensuring the 2-1 victory over the Hammers was the most important thing on a day that meant so much to him personally. So what is it that makes Osman and Everton so unique?
Osman made his first start for Everton in May 2004, netting after just 3 minutes against Wolves, and it was soon apparent it was going to be a perfect fit. In the decade that has followed Osman has bagged over 50 goals from midfield and recently played in his Testimonial match against FC Porto.
It’s not just goals Osman brings to the party, far from it. In the latest game against West Ham, Osman topped the most passes stat (66/71), as well as the highest number of ball recoveries (8). He also played (20/21) successful final 3rd passes. It’s not just Osman who has spent a number of years at Everton FC though; Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, Tony Hibbert, Leighton Baines, and Steven Pienaar are mainstays in the blue’s match day squad, and it is no coincidence the Merseyside club have managed to overachieve year in year out, spending far inferior sums of money to those around, and often below them.
Character, attitude and team harmony are vital in creating a healthy morale and successful squad, and with players akin to the positive, hard working style of Leon Osman running through the Everton spine it is no real surprise they constantly threaten the infamous top 4 spaces at the top end of the English Premier League.
A great example of this in the current season is that of Southampton. Deemed relegation fodder after multiple sales of their star players, mainly to Liverpool, So’ton sit in 2nd place in table proving there’s much more to success than individual talent. That’s no dig at the quality of Osman though, a very tidy and technically strong player, but who is also very smart in the way he plays. This transfers to both on and off the field decisions. Similar to Paul Scholes, Osman keeps a tight and professional manner off the football pitch, and appears grounded at all times. This is something I believe that has ensured Osman has had a highly creditable decade at Everton, especially after an early career knee injury ruled him out for over a year.
A fans favourite and cult hero, Leon Osman has proven their is still loyalty lurking in football, loyalty that can be rewarded greatly with Everton FC reaping the rewards. If Everton can keep hold of the likes of Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman, their future for the next decade looks as bright as the previous. Long live the one club player.