Osman deserves England call
Published: 06.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
Leon Osman has been outstanding for Everton, cajoling and probing with the elegance and flair of a continental star.
But of course, Osman is English. The 31 year old has been a pivotal part of the Everton team for most of the last decade, after making his debut in the same year as Wayne Rooney. But unlike his former team mate, Osman’s talents have gone mostly unnoticed.
It is a shame too. England have for years lamented the lack of a small, technically gifted midfielder in the mould of the last player they had in that ilk – Paul Scholes. Now Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley are on the scene, but Osman has been a wasted talent in between.
Whilst so many of his compatriots suffer from a generally naïve approach to the game, an inability to see a pass, use both feet or any intuitive movement, Osman is a rare breed. Here is an English player who can pick the ball up with a good first touch, is equally happy moving onto his left or right foot to create space, and deliver brilliant passes.
That he has gone without mention for the most part is a symptom of the latent problems in English football. Osman is a player who would surely have had more attention had he played overseas, in Spain or Italy, France or Germany. But in England, a player of his more subtle talents will be ignored for those who are more physically imposing – players who score the goals, deliver the most assists or stop attackers in their tracks. There is little room for players like Osman or Leon Britton, quietly effective passers who are diminutive in stature, rarely make decisive blocks or score, and are not particularly prolific in the assists charts – but whose contribution is essential. Their ability to keep the play ticking over, to keep their team on the move, on the front foot and develop moves, is absolutely pivotal.
Osman has been overlooked by players far inferior to him for far too long. It is good that youngsters are given a chance, but are Jake Livermore, Raheem Sterling or Jonjo Shelvey really more deserving of an England spot than Osman? Really? What about those other players, like David Bentley, who pulled himself out of England under 21 duty because of tiredness one summer, or David Nugent, who had not even played in the top flight. Even one of the most comically inept players in English football, Titus Bramble, has had more international recognition than Osman at youth level.
The player does not complain, does not seek the limelight, but he is fervent in his desire to represent his country – having turned down the chance to play for Turkey, who he is also eligible for. It is a wonder that a player who has showed such unfailing loyalty to his country, struck up none of the fuss than many more egocentric compatriots, whilst showing so many of the skills that the present England team lack, has gone for so long with barely a sniff of international action.