Everton midfielder Leon Osman Thursday equalled David Unsworth’s club record of 302 Premier League appearances, and will have the chance of making history when Everton face Southampton at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The 32-year-old began his career in 2000, playing mainly in reserve games and for the U18’s. In October 2002, he joined Carlisle United on loan, with the idea of getting some first team experience. His loan spell was a successful one, and he won the Carlisle Player of the Year Award.
Osman returned to Everton, but again struggled to make the first team. In 2004 he was again loaned out, this time to an under-performing Derby County in the Championship. The midfielder played a pivotal role in helping Derby club maintain its Championship status, scoring three goals in 17 appearances. Then Rams manager George Burley wanted Osman on a permanent deal, but the midfielder was now clearly in Everton’s future plans.
The toffee’s midfielder became a regular starter in Everton’s side during 2004, and has since gone on to make 302 Premier League appearances.
Osman’s consistent performances in the side continued, and he has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. He finally won his deserved international call up in 2012 - at the age of 31 - starting in England’s 4-2 defeat in Sweden.
Like a fine wine, Osman has got better with age, and last season was his most productive - he netted 8 goals (his best in a season ever).
This season, under new Everton boss Roberto Martinez, Osman has continued to maintain his place in the team, making 12 starts, and has performed well in Martinez’s possession-based side.
With an average successful pass rate of 88.4% this season - coupled with two goals and two assists - there is every evidence that, despite turning 33 in May next year, Osman remains an important part of the successful Everton set-up.
image: © Nick Sarebi