The Premier League has been and is home to a host of stars. The likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres have or currently ply their trade in England’s top flight.
But as well as these stars there are a number of players who, without having the big name, are just as important to their team. They may not grab the headlines, but every week they consistantly perform for their team and go unsung.
Everton’s Leon Osman is one such player. Rising up through the ranks of the Mersey side club Osman broke into the Everton squad at 23 after spells on loan at Carlisle and Derby County and has been a staple part of the Everton squad ever since.
Osman joined the Everton academy at a young age and was part of the team that won the 1998 FA Youth Cup. He continued working his way through the club but in 2001 he suffered a serious knee injury that threatened to end his career. He was out for almost a year but returned and went on loan to Carlisle in October 2002 where his performances that season saw him earn their player of the month award for October.
He returned to Everton in January with a bang, scoring a hat trick against Manchester United’s reserves yet this wasn’t enough for him to force his way into David Moyes’ plans and he was given just two substitute appearances.
Osman went on loan in January 04 this time to Derby and his performances here made Moyes pay attention.
In his 17 appearances for the Division 1 club, he played an integral role in helping the Rams avoid relegation and scored 3 goals. Their fans took him to their hearts and George Burley tried to sign him but Moyes had other plans.
He returned to Goodison Park in May 04 and was given his first start against Wolves and he snatched the opportunity with both hands scoring after 3 minutes.
He became a first team regular in the 04/05 and his performances earned him a new long term contract. The following season he grabbed 4 goals and then 3 the season after that.
It was a massive turn around for Osman who a few years earlier almost considered retirement due to that knee injury.
Osman’s excellent close control and touch as well as vision, passing and eye for goal saw Osman become a fan favourite known affectionately as ‘Ossie’ by the Everton faithful. His size is a problem though and he is all too easily brushed off the ball by the burley defenders of the Premier League but he has heart in abundance and isn’t easily discouraged (after breaking his toe in the 3rd minute of the Carling Cup quarter final against West Ham, Osman soldiered on for the rest of the game, even grabbing a goal).
Osman has made 13 appearances this season and continues to impress Toffees fans as he goes about his job in their midfield.