EVERTON PASt PLAYER PROFILE

Leon Osman

Neville
Squad number 21
Position Midfield
Joined from Youth Academy
Signed by David Moyes
Transfer fee None
Sub debut v Tottenham (a)
12 January 2003
Full debut v Wolves (a)
1 May 2004
Contract duration 3 + 5 + 5 years
Contract expires June 2014
Born Billinge, Wigan
Date of birth 17 May 1981
Height 5' 9" (1.73 m)
Nickname(s) Ossie
Honours FA Youth Cup 1998


STRENGTHS
Excellent close control
Silky passing
Not afraid to shoot
 
WEAKNESSES
Small, light-weight stature
Injury prone
Easily disposed
Gets brushed aside
Can't tackle
Limited on-field presence


Soccerbase Datafile
Wikipedia Entry
 

 
Leon Osman's path to a regular berth in Everton's senior squad was a frustratingly long one.  By the 2002-03 season, the lad from Skelmersdale was not only getting winning goals for the Reserves but good reviews from coach Andy Holden.

Osman was undoubtedly one of our most talented midfielders to come through the Youth Academy but his career didn't initially blossom as hoped.

He sustained a particularly bad injury which kept him out for about a year at arguably the most important stage in his development; he is not the biggest or strongest player around and seemed slow to mature physically; and in some ways to be a bit too 'polite' to become a dynamic, forceful player who would 'dominate' midfield. But then that was never to be his style anyway...

There always seemed a question mark as to whether he would get these required qualities before he was 'given up on' but he finally started to impose himself and hoped to become the kind of positive creative midfielder Everton had been crying out for.

In October 2002, Osman went on loan to Carlisle, where he was a great success.  He was Carlisle's player of the month for October.  He played in three Football League Trophy matches but Everton kept Osman out of Carlisle's 2002-03 FA Cup campaign, and he returned to the club in January 2003 with a bang — scoring a hat-trick for the Reserves in a 4-1 hammering of Manchester United

It wasn't quite enough to convince David Moyes that he would be worth a punt at filling the gaping hole labeled "creative attacking midfielder" in his otherwise well-balanced squad-building programme, though. Osman was given just two substitute appearances (v Spurs and Villa) amounting to no more than 5 minutes on the pitch and he must have been wondering what a young player has to do to get a decent chance.

Be that as it may, Leon Osman was at least granted a 12-month extension to his contract, allowing him another season to dazzle in the Reserves.

Moyes was considering giving him a run out as Season 2003-04 developed: "We still see him as really good potential but to step up from the reserves means you have to have either a great deal of pace or a strong physical presence and that's where we need to work with him to build that up.  He is most definitely in our thoughts for the future though."

A tipping point arguably came when he was given a much-appreciated loan spell at Derby County, then in the division below, where he made an immediate impact and the Rams fans, hopeful of signing him permanently, took him to their hearts. 

Moyes, though, saw visible signs of Leon's maturity and development and, with three games to go in 2003-04 and most of his midfield favourites injured, he gave Osman his well-deserved start — at the ripe age of 23.  The diminutive star scored inside 3 mins with a lovely header!

And Osman maintained his good form into the 2004-05 season, playing some great football in midfield and getting on the scoresheet a few times as Everton surged up to third place. Leon become the second leading scorer (behind another midfielder — Tim Cahill) but the common perception was that he did seem to be brushed off the ball rather too easily... and he faded as Everton clung on to fourth place through a difficult second half to the season.

Osman can be used playing just behind the lone striker, since he seems to have a good eye for a pass and can get amongst the goals if given the chance.  As the 2005-06 campaign got under way, neither Osman nor the team as a whole could get it together, but as his goals eventually started to come , the Blues went on a winning streak which elevated them off the foot of the Premiership to mid-table mediocrity. 

All told, his return of four goals was perhaps a little disappointing, but it was Ossie's contribution in midfield, often second only to Mikel Arteta in terms of finesse and influence, that was most pleasing.  Yet increasingly it seemed, Osman could be pushed off the ball with impunity by burly defenders, and his moments of skill compensated less and less for this lack of physical presence while his knack for goalscoring seemed to desert him. 

With the odds seemingly stacked against him there was a time with just a year remaining on his contract when it seemed as though Leon's days at Everton were numbered, but Moyes persisted with him and he was an almost permanent fixture in the First XI for much of 2006-07, helping the Blues to finish 6th and qualify for Europe.

And it was during the stellar last few months of 2007 that a player, who so often seemed tantalisingly short of really "making it," really blossomed into an essential part of a dynamic midfield. Bolstered by the return from long-term injury of Tim Cahill that October, Everton embarked on a 13-game unbeaten run that was founded on the return of the 4-1-4-1 formation.

With Steven Pienaar and Arteta alongside him, Ossie was an attacking-midfield revelation, scoring delightful goals (a brilliant first-time effort on the run from outside the box against Larissa in the Uefa Cup being one example) and helping to usher in a long-awaited pass-and-move game under Moyes.

His importance to the side was made no more obvious than when he broke his big toe in a Carling Cup Quarter Final tie at West Ham — the injury occurred in the 3rd minute yet he soldiered on through the remaining 87, scored a goal and played in the Premier League game on the same ground four days later thanks to pain-killing injections — and he was ruled out for 6 weeks, temporarily breaking up what was, at the time, arguably Everton's best midfield since the golden age of the 1980s. 

After what was probably his best season in 2007-08, Osman faded dramatically in the subsequent season, not helped by playing through an ankle injury and the decision to defer a planned operation until the close season.

Near the end of that campaign, Osman gave the impression he might be improving, scoring two goals in a rare defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage, but it was not until he was moved inside again and given the captaincy for one night in a League Cup game at Hull the following season that he appeared to be over his curious loss of form.

Though he does best in an attacking central midfield role, Osman's value to Moyes has always been his versatility and his lack of physical presence has often seen him deployed in right midfield where he has struggled for consistency. That was certainly the case in 2010-11 where he didn't really start to perform until the tail end of the campaign but a move back into his preferred central role in 2011-12 really enabled him to shine once more.

Finally fulfilling the potential he thrreatened for so long, Osman was an integral part of an Everton side that finished the 2011-12 campaign in Champions League-qualifying form and that would go on in 2012 to record its best sequence of results since the 1980s.

As the Blues emerged as realistic contenders for qualification for Europe's elite competition via a top-four finish, with Ossie's technique on the ball and ability to pick a pass at the heart of many of their best performances, he was belatedly granted the highest accolades of his career — a first England cap, at the ripe old age of 31! There was no trip to the World Cup in Brazil, however, although he did play some part in every game of Everton's best-ever Premier League showing that season.

And Roberto Martinez continued to call on Osman, despite the obvious signs that he didn't really have the body strength for 90 mins of Premier League football.  But he could still contribute the odd moment of magic, a quick-thinking free-kick taken against Aston Villa that allowed Leighton Baines to set up Seamus Coleman for a memorable winner against Aston Villa being the most recent. 

Strangely, Osman was persuaded to serialize his Autobiography in the Liverpool Echo in October 2014 – something most players leave until after they have hung up their boots. He didn't really have much to say but his dissing of Tim Cahill's appearance on the field for the joint Moyes/Neville farewell 'celebration' in May 2013 drew the most attention, along with his eye-witness account of Moyes trying to teach Per Kroldrup how to head the ball!

Maybe the timing was right, however: Leon suffered a torn ligament in his foot that would require an operation and he was forced to seriously consider calling time on his Everton career.  He was out of action for three months, and they turned out to be Everton's worst spell of the season, with the Blues losing most of the games they played without him. He returned in March 2015 and Everton's fortunes improved as they pulled away from the relegation zone.

In what would become his 14th and final season playing for Everton's senior squad, Osman's appearances were few and far between. He sat on the bench for most of the season, starting a handful of cup games but just two Premier League games. Much was made of the failure to be offered a new contract but it was inevitable really given his increasingly limited contribution. He would be one of three long-serving professionals (along with Pienaar and Hibbert) to be released in June 2016.

 

 


Everton Career
Season Squad
Number
League
Apps (sub)
League
Goals
Cup
Apps (sub)
Cup
Goals
Total
Apps (sub)
Total
Goals
2000-01
34
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
2001-02
34
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
2002-03
31
0 (2)
0
0 (0)
0
0 (2)
0
2003-04
31
3 (1)
1
0 (1)
0
3 (2)
1
2004-05
21
24 (5)
6
5 (1)
1
29 (6)
7
2005-06
21
28 (7)
3
4 (3)
1
32 (10)
4
2006-07
21
31 (2)
3
3 (0)
0
34 (2)
3
2007-08
21
25 (3)
4
11 (0)
3
36 (3)
7
2008-09
21
32 (2)
6
9 (0)
1
41 (2)
7
2009-10 21 25 (1) 2 7 (2) 2 32 (3) 4
2010-11 21 20 (5) 4 5 (0) 1 25 (5) 5
2011-12 21 28 (2) 5 4 (0) 0 32 (2) 5
2012-13 21 36 (0) 5 6 (0) 3 42 (0) 8
2013-14 21 27 (11) 3 2 (3) 0 29 (14) 3
2014-15 21 13 (8) 2 2 (6) 1 15 (14) 3
2015-16 21 2 (7) 0 4 (3) 1 6 (10) 1
  Totals 294 (56) 44 62 (19) 14 356 (75) 58

Everton Youth & Reserves Record
Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
1997-98 Youth Cup 7 2
1998-99 ResU-19s & YC 0 (1), 2 & 8 0, 1 & 2
1999-2k Res, U-19s 12 (5) & 7 (0) 3 & 6
2000-01 Reserves 15 (2) 3
2001-02 Reserves 10 (0) 2
2002-03 Reserves 19 (1) 12
2003-04 Reserves
12 (0)
8
Loan spells
Oct-Dec 02 Carlisle United 10 (1) & 3 (0) 1 & 2
Jan-Apr 04 Derby County 17 (0) 3


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