Osman: I Still Feel 21
Midfielder feels as youthful as on Blues debut, a decade later.
Leon Osman insists he still feels 21, despite approaching a decade of Everton service.
On Saturday, when Swansea visit Goodison Park, it will be exactly 10 years since the midfielder made his Blues debut.
It is something of a travesty that only now, in his 32nd year, Osman has had the chance to display his quick feet and intelligent passing on the international stage.
But rather than looking back on 11 seasons of top flight action, the young-at-heart academy graduate prefers to look forward.
He wants to play on 'for as long as I can,' and told evertontv: "I feel like I'm 21. I feel young and good and hopefully I'm going to continue to feel like that and continue to play in the first-team.
"I'm delighted to have achieved 10 years. It's something that you want to do - you grow up wanting to play for Everton. Not only have I done that now, I've done it for a decade. I'm thrilled.
"Hard work and always trying to do what the manager tells me," are the unglamorous secrets of Osman's success, he claims.
"If he's got a job that he needs doing, whether I like it or not, I'll try and do it. The manager's still here and he obviously appreciates the fact that I try to do a job for him."
Osman's evolution from 21-year-old first team fringe player to one of David Moyes' trusted lieutenants has seen him begin to recognise the role experienced players can play in nurturing their younger peers.
He won't be relinquishing his status as the squad's number one prankster though.
"When I'm trying not to joke around, possibly!" he smiled. "I still feel like I'm 21 and I can't help it. At times I also feel the burden of experience when you see the young kids and you try to help them follow not necessarily the same path you have taken, but help them to make their own."
His diminutive stature and composure in possession, combined with a deft sense of timing and keen eye for goal lead to hyperbolic comparisons with Barcelona's Ballon d'Or nominee Andres Iniesta earlier this season.
Osman laughs off links with the Spanish star.
"This is possibly the best form of my career," he continued. "I'm enjoying my football without doubt. We're playing some great stuff as a team. I feel like I'm being a good part of that and I usually tend to judge things by how well I'm enjoying them, and this is certainly ranking up there at the minute.
"It (Iniesta talk) is flattering. I'm certainly cool and fashionable! No, he's certainly a fantastic player and just to be mentioned in the same sentence is an honour."
Osman's debut ended in narrow defeat to Tottenham. A decade on, he's hoping for better.
"It would be great to mark it with a win," he continued. "It's not only that it's going to be a nice ocassion for me, it's important that we pick up the three points and stay on the tails of the top four."