John Lundstram has enjoyed quite the rise since he left Everton in 2015.
The 26-year-old may not be the most technically gifted, sharpest or most talented footballer in the Premier League, yet he has established himself as a household name in the realm of Fantasy Premier League players.
Every player, their dog, and their nan has Lundstram in their squad.
Under Chris Wilder’s tutelage he has blossomed into a highly functional and tactically disciplined cog in a well-oiled Sheffield United machine, offering tenacity and a steady stream of goal contributions from midfield.
But it was actually at Finch Farm where Lundstram began to craft his trade, and his rise in prominence may leave some Toffees supporters with a tinge of regret over the club’s decision to let him leave for nothing almost five years ago.
With the global pandemic putting football on hold until April 30th at the very earliest, it’s an apt opportunity to reflect on his career and assess how he has fared since leaving Merseyside.
Let’s take a look…
When David Moyes was in charge of Everton, Lundstram felt he had a chance of eventually breaking into the senior squad, per The Guardian.
“When David Moyes was at Everton I was in the squad and with the first team and doing really well but as soon as he left it just wasn’t the same for me.”
Everything started to go wrong after Moyes took the job at Manchester United, though, as Roberto Martinez made his peripheral status abundantly clear.
The Spanish boss, according to Lundstram, omitted him from the first team’s pre-season tour without explanation and that disregard set the tone for what was to come.
Everton’s versatile academy product was involved at England youth level from U17s through to U20s, while he also appeared in 46 matches for the Toffees’ U23 outfit.
Lundstram spent time on loan with Doncaster, Yeovil, Leyton Orient, Blackpool and Scunthorpe but his endeavours to impress away from Goodison Park proved to be in vain. He eventually decided to embark on a new challenge when his contract expired in 2015 as he agreed a two-year deal with Oxford United.
The drop down to League Two represented the first step on an exciting journey back to the top flight.
While predominantly operating as a central midfielder, Lundstram had a profound and immediate impact at Oxford United as a return of three goals and four assists helped the club to clinch automatic promotion to League One, pipping both Bristol Rovers and Accrington Stanley to 2nd place by a solitary point.
Lundstram was made captain of the side the following season and Oxford narrowly missed out on a place in the playoffs under his leadership. But the combative midfielder wasn’t to be denied his opportunity to continue progressing towards the Premier League, with League One title winners Sheffield United completing a permanent deal in July 2017.
Almost three years on, the 26-year-old is a beating heart of the Blades’ midfield and could yet play a pivotal role in helping the club achieve Champions League qualification.
That Lundstram has started 23 league fixtures this season attests to his importance at the club, while a return of three goals and four assists underlines why he has become an FPL sensation this season.
But what is most surprising about his emergence is the fact he was firmly on the fringes of the first team in the Championship last season and made just 10 league appearances.
Given his story so far, though, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he has once again conquered in the face of adversity.
Chris Wilder’s assessment of his attitude on occasions when he has been left out perfectly encapsulates his professionalism and never-say-die spirit, per The Star.
“The way he has been in the changing room when he hasn’t played has been exemplary. And then he comes back in and plays like he has. I think that’s a fantastic example of how you should be as a professional footballer.”
John Lundstram: the embodiment of professionalism.
Born in Liverpool, made at Sheffield United.