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Everton FCs Leon Osman desperate to win a trophy before he retires
With long-overdue England recognition finally secured, his displays earning widespread acclaim and even a comparison to Barcelona magician Andres Iniesta – Leon Osman could be forgiven for declaring the 2012/13 season a personal success already.
Don’t expect to hear that sentiment any time soon from the midfielder, however. The 31-year-old, who celebrates a decade as an Everton player in Saturday’s Premier League visit of Swansea City, won’t feel content until he has fulfilled one burning ambition. For a one-club man who is as immersed in the Blues as any supporter, Osman craves the chance to get his hands on a trophy and is spurred on by the fear that it won’t happen before he hangs up his boots. Not since lifting the FA Youth Cup back in 1998 has Osman got lifted some silverware. The decision of David Moyes to field a strong starting line-up for Monday’s FA Cup third round rout of League Two side Cheltenham Town sent out a significant statement of intent that Everton are serious in their attempts to end a trophy drought that stretches back to 1995. But for Osman, who was part of the Everton team that were beaten in the 2009 FA Cup final against Chelsea and lost to neighbours Liverpool in the semi-final last season, that honour can’t come soon enough. “It is getting greater,” says Osman, who scored a typically refined solo strike at Whaddon Road.
“You can’t play forever, so it’s something I’m desperately hungry to achieve – to win a trophy at this club, for this club, for the fans and myself.
“I want to be a part of that and although I wouldn’t like to say time’s running out I’m not getting any younger and I need to achieve it sooner rather than later.
“You’d rather get closer than further away and we’ve been developing as a team and are finding a way to win games now. We drew a lot at the start of the season but we’re finding a way to get the wins now which should put us in good stead.
“The test will be if we can sustain it. In the past we’ve managed it for the second half of the season but we’ve had a reasonably good start to the second part of the season and hopefully we can maintain it. “We hope we have the depth to do it. We’ll need to have some luck in keeping our key players injury free.”
Osman will make his 357th appearance for Everton this weekend, a Goodison career that took time to take off with the Billinge-born player’s development hampered by a serious knee injury suffered after the Youth Cup success. The midfielder scored in the first leg of the 5-3 aggregate success over Blackburn Rovers but would have to wait almost five years before his first team bow as a late substitute in a 4-3 Premier League defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in January 2003. Osman had not long returned from an encouraging a loan spell at Carlisle United, and it was after a similar stint at Derby County the following season that he marked his first Everton start with a goal after just three minutes in a 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers in May 2004. And Ray Hall, Everton’s former academy chief and responsible for developing Osman during his youth, never had any doubts Osman would succeed.
“People talk about Leon having made his debut 10 years ago,” says Hall.
“No he didn’t – he made his debut for Everton 20 years ago for our under-11s.
“He’s been here longer than almost every other member of staff. That says something about the kind of quality and character of the man. Everton has been his club, still is his club and will always be his club.
“I think the academy system is all about players like Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert. Players who are local, players who have got an obvious ability and players that have got a desire to want to improve every year that they are playing the game.
“I don’t think I have worked with anyone with the same technical qualities as Leon, and that includes players like Wayne (Rooney). He is the most naturally gifted, two-footed player that I have worked with.
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