Roberto Martinez didn’t realise just how good Leon Osman was until he started working with the midfielder last summer.
The Blues boss says he had always admired Osman as a footballer but only started to appreciate the 33-year-old’s true qualities when he was appointed as manager at Goodison Park.
This was reflected by the way Martinez utilised the Academy graduate last season – he was the only Everton player to feature in all 38 Premier League games during 2013/14.
Osman first joined Everton as schoolboy in 1991 and a testimonial against FC Porto this Sunday is a fitting way to celebrate his Goodison career, according to Martinez.
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“We are all extremely excited - it’s a unique event in the Club’s history,” said the Everton manager. “Everyone is looking forward to the day.
“From a distance it is impossible to appreciate the real talent of Leon. You see him and know that he is a talented footballer but once you get to work with him you realise that he has real quick feet and a very clever footballing brain.
“He was so influential last season in the way he was asked to take on new concepts and new footballing aspects which was very important for our team.
“He was the only player to play in every Premier League game which is remarkable. That shows great intelligence in how to adapt and to do what’s needed for the team.
“He has really good fitness levels at an experienced moment of his career and shows a level of ability that allowed him to be important in a number of games, where he came up with solutions when the team needed it most.
“But it’s true that you need to work with Leon to appreciate him. He is not someone who is loud with his way of behaving – he is someone that always acts in a professional manner and gets his job done.”
Sunday’s opponents recently strengthened their squad by completing the loan signing of Barcelona hotshot Cristian Tello and permanent transfers of Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi and Algerian playmaker Yacine Brahimi.
Porto also feature Jackson Martinez, the Colombian striker who has smashed 46 goals in 60 league matches for the two-time European champions and was a standout performer at the recent World Cup.
“We have got very good opposition and Porto are going to bring a really talented group of players,” said the Goodison chief.
“They have a new manager coming in and it is going to be great facing one of the teams we could be playing in the Europa League this season.”