Osman's Debut Memories
Midfielder recalls his first Everton game, 10 years ago.
Ten years ago this weekend, Leon Osman made his first senior appearance in an Everton shirt, making a late cameo away at Tottenham Hotspur. The date: Saturday 12 January 2003.
Osman’s debut came about in rather unusual circumstances. He was originally excluded from the matchday 16 but an injury to Richard Wright in the warm-up resulted in Espen Baardsen stepping up to the starting line-up. Osman filled the breach on the bench and he was thrust into the limelight as a last minute substitute, replacing former Chinese international Li Tie.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind to be honest. I wasn't meant to be on the bench. Richard Wright got injured in the warm-up, so Espen Baardsen went in goal and the next thing I knew I was on the bench,” Osman told evertontv earlier this week.
“I didn't get chance to warm up, I was just changed and then sat there watching a terrific game which we were unfortunate to be losing 4-3.
“The fourth official put the board up and then I was on the pitch for the last minute or two. It was a crazy day. I was disappointed that we lost but delighted to make my debut.”
That match against Spurs, which ended 4-3 to the home side, is also notable as being the first time in the Everton’s history that more overseas players were included in the starting line-up than British players.
For the record, the Everton team that afternoon at White Hart Lane was: Baardsen, Unsworth, Naysmith, Pistone, Stubbs, Yobo (Carsley), Gemmill, Tie (Osman), Watson, McBride, Radzinski (Unused subs: Said, Pembridge, Alexandersson)
Osman has since gone to make a total of 328 senior career appearances for Everton, 269 of which have been in the top flight. The only Blues player to appear more in the Premier League is David Unsworth, who featured in a total of 302 games in his two separate spells at Goodison Park.
During his time with Everton, Osman has played against 57 different clubs. He has faced Liverpool 18 times – more than any other team – and has scored one goal in Merseyside derbies, which was his strike in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park earlier in the season.
Second on the list of Osman’s most common opponents are Manchester United, with the 31-year-old having lined up against the Old Trafford club on 17 occasions. He has yet to score a senior goal against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, although he did once score a hat-trick for Everton reserves against United’s counterparts in a 4-1 win at Altrincham.
In terms of goalscoring, the midfielder’s favourite opponents are Aston Villa. Of his 48 senior career goals for Everton, five have been scored against the Villains. He has also scored four against West Bromwich Albion and three versus Sunderland, West Ham United and Wigan Athletic.
Of those aforementioned 48 goals, 36 have been netted in the top flight. That total puts him fourth on the list of the Club’s top Premier League goalscorers behind Duncan Ferguson (60), Tim Cahill (56) and Kevin Campbell (45).