Leon Osman: Best Moments of His 10 Years at Everton
The match signalled ten years in the Toffees' first team for the midfielder. An especially impressive accomplishment given the current fast-moving, cosmopolitan climate of the Premier League.
Now playing as a deep-lying central midfielder for the first sustained period of his career, he is perhaps enjoying his best form as a professional and is certainly gaining far more appreciation than ever before.
In total, he's accumulated 327 appearance for the Toffees, racking up 48 goals. In the Premier League he has the second most appearances for Everton and the fourth highest tally of goals.
In honour of this impressive ten-year accolade, here's a look at some of Osman's best moments in an Everton shirt.
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images
Osman made his Everton debut in peculiar circumstances, not long after he'd returned to the club from a loan spell at Carlisle in the fourth tier of English football.
A late injury meant he was promoted to the bench at the last minute for a game against Tottenham and eventually emerged as a surprise substitute during the closing stages.
Everton were losing the match 4-3 and Osman was given a two minute cameo to see if he could inject impetus and help his side salvage a result.
Just 21 at the time, he was quite a late debutant in academy terms.
On the field he had little time on the ball, and few would have envisaged he'd still be running out for the Toffees ten years later with over 300 appearances in the tank.
First Premier League Goal
Stu Forster/Getty Images
After his debut, Osman was once again farmed out on loan, this time to Derby County, where he enjoyed a successful spell in England's second tier.
On his return to the Toffees he was again thrust into the first team picture for a couple of end of season games, allowing Moyes a brief chance to assess his Premier League credentials.
The Toffees were struggling near the foot of the table at the time. Although the results didn't improve with Osman included, he made the most of his chance, scoring with his first opportunity in an away defeat to Wolves.
In a dismal summer for all associated with the club, he had at least provided his manager food for thought going forward.
Integrel Part of a Top Four Finish
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
After impressing Moyes at the tail-end of a frustrating season at Goodison Park, Osman was then given a starting role at the start of the 2004/05 campaign.
Moyes deployed the youngster in a wide berth of a 4-5-1 formation with instructions to help out the lone striker where possible.
He was an instant success, scoring an early brace in a 2-1 win over West Brom and never looked back.
In all, he featured in 37 games over the course of the season and was an essential addition to a side that shocked the nation by finishing fourth.
From a player familiar with lower division loan spells, he had suddenly become a core ingredient for a top four side in the Premier League.
Goal Against Larissa
As mentioned, Osman has struck a significant haul of goals over his Everton career, but the best was undeniably this stunning strike in the Europa League (then the Uefa Cup) against Larissa.
His finish in isolation is worthy of recognition, but it caps off a superb flowing move involving Leighton Baines, Tim Cahill and Steven Pienaar.
The manner in which Osman strides up to the final ball and hits an unstoppable drive is textbook timing, and this clip deserves to be played over and over again.
Undoubtedly his best strike in Everton colours, and one of the club's finest during his career.
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Another standout moment for Osman was the first time he was selected to lead out the team.
Phil Neville has been the man predominately associated with the captain's armband during Osman's career, while Joseph Yobo, Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka have proved able deputies in his absence.
Osman was finally deemed worthy of this prestigious task in a 2009 League Cup tie at Hull, in which he scored and captained the Toffees to a commanding 4-0 win.
He'd been passed the armband during previous games and earned the honour again afterwards, but the first time an academy graduate leads out his team is clearly a special moment for both player and club.
FA Cup Final
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Although the final itself will be tinged with sadness, it's still a moment of his career he will look back on with a certain amount of pride.
Being involved in a side that knocked out much-fancied Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester United sides to reach the final is impressive itself, and it remains the closest Osman has ever been to winning silverware.
Having fallen just short again last year, against Liverpool in the semifinal, getting his hands on a trophy will remain a pressing ambition for Osman during the next stage of his Everton career.
A Goal Against Liverpool at Last
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Osman recently ticked off this milestone last October, finally recording an overdue goal against Liverpool.
Having gone a decade of fiercely contested battles with the Toffees' arch rivals, none of his 40-odd goals had come against them, and Osman had failed to provide considerable input in many of these fixtures.
Despite recent contrasting league form, Liverpool have certainly earned the bragging rights from the majority of derbies during his career. Finally notching a goal against them will have undoubtedly come as a huge relief.
The fact his finish roused a fine comeback and helped earn a 2-2 draw from 2-0 deficit will have also pleased him.
Overdue England Call
Michael Regan/Getty Images
After possibly his most consistent streak in an Everton shirt, Osman's ability was finally recognised at international level when Roy Hodgson called him up for a friendly against Sweden in November 2012.
The call came as a shock to some, but few can say he hasn't deserved this over the duration of his career. Regardless of age, he is in the form of his life right now and is on par with the top English Premier League midfielders.
On the field, his quick feet and ability to maintain possession in heavy traffic served him well during the game and he was one of his country's more prominent performers.
He gave a good account of himself and emerged with an enhanced respect from those not associated with Everton.
A deserved reward for a classy professional who has been a loyal servant with the Toffees. It wouldn't be hugely surprising, or unjustified, if it proves to be the first of several.