Chelsea legend talks ex-Tottenham starlet into Belgian second tier switch

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John Bostock will try to revive his career at Royal Antwerp under the watchful eye of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

October 2007 and the Daily Mail ran with the article ‘Meet John Bostock, aged 15, the boy Barcelona can’t buy’.

Bostock made his debut for Crystal Palace aged just 15 years and 287 days and from there he became the worlds most wanted 15-year-old footballer.

Barcelona were not alone in their futile pursuit. Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea … in fact name a big team in Europe and the likelihood is they tried to sign him such was the incredible amount of hype surrounding the player.

In the end it was Tottenham who managed to tie him down in what was a controversial transfer deal worth just £1 million in compensation.

At the time Simon Jordan, then Palace chairman, was adamant that one day the young star they had just lost for what he felt was pittance would be worth much more than the price Spurs actually paid.

Although in the end, they did pretty well to even get that for the player.

Bostock was a flop at Spurs. Loan spells with Hull City, Swindon Town and Toronto FC were all vaguely successful or unsuccessful and this summer he was released from his contract with the club.

So where would he end up this summer?

Well I bet none of you would have guessed Royal Antwerp.

The Belgian outfit are currently playing in the second tier of the Belgian football league system but do have a familiar face in charge of the club; Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

He took the role in May; the first management role of his career.

The club, which is perhaps best known for a good European run at the start of the 90’s or their loan link-up with Manchester United, has not won the Belgian First Division since 1957 and their ultimate ambition is to get back into the top tier and challenge for that championship.

But they haven’t won anything since the year 2000.

Last year they finished tenth and Hasselbaink and Bostock will be charged with beating the likes of KSV Roeselare, Sint-Truiden and Dessel Sport to the ultimate prize.

By this time in his career many predicted Bostock to be a regular member of the Tottenham and England setups but instead finds himself playing for a Belgian second division outfit.

Crystal Palace fans can afford a smile; especially considering they are back in the Premier League this season.

But Bostock is happy with the move; suggesting in a Tweet that Hasselbaink played a key role in the decision.

"Delighted to announce that I've signed for Royal Antwerp FC today. Can't wait to start the season and really looking forward to working under my new coach Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink."

But can Belgian football save his career?

image: © mikehamm

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