Sheffield United: 'A fine, fine footballer and a decent bloke to boot' - The lowdown on Ben Osborn after former Nottingham Forest man becomes latest Blades signing
Sheffield United are signing a ‘fine, fine footballer and a decent bloke to boot’ in Ben Osborn.
That’s the view of journalist Barry Cooper, who covers Forest for the Nottingham Post and has seen Osborn at close quarters for some years before his move to Bramall Lane.
Osborn became a Blade this afternoon after United returned with another offer, when their first was rejected.
Osborn, who was in the final year of his contract at the City Ground, can play a number of positions and has signed a three-year deal at United.
We asked Cooper what kind of player – and person – United have bought.
“Ben Osborn is a player who has always divided opinion on the terraces at the City Ground,” he said.
“A player revered by some, derided by others appreciated by all the managers he’s played under at Nottingham Forest.
“Right from his debut under academy manager Gary Brazil in 2014, Osborn has given nothing but one hundred percent commitment to the shirt.
“He etched his name into Forest hearts in January 2015 when in stoppage time of the East Midlands derby at Pride Park, he surged forward before lashing the ball into the Derby County net to seal a famous win for Stuart Pearce’s Reds.
“That was a moment. Not least for Osborn, from the city of Derby and a Rams fan in his youth.
“Since then, the chant of ‘who put the ball in Derby’s net, super Benny Osborn’ has been a regular verse heard being bellowed from the depths of the Bridgford End.
“There’s more to Osborn than commitment and the ability to run all day long. Inside that diminutive frame, there’s a wise head, there’s a sensible, mature footballer who is bright on the ball, inventive and has the ability to see a pass.
“He may not be one to grab headlines each week - quite like he did that January afternoon four years ago. He is however, at worst, a solid six out of 10 performer, week in, week out.
“You don’t pull on the Garibaldi Red more than 200 times if you’ve not got ability and presence on the pitch, even if Forest during that time haven’t performed to their highest standards.
“Osborn has been a rare shining light. One who never shirks, one who will always stand up and be counted. Play him in the middle of the park or in a more advanced role and you’ll see his vision, his tenacity.
“Ferry him all over the park when you’re relying on filling round holes with square pegs and he’ll not let you down, you just won’t get to see the best of him – just like Forest haven’t on occasion.
“Some have questioned his ability to make the step up to the Premier League. For me, there’s little doubt that he won’t. He’s got the engine, he’s got the desire and he’s also got the technical ability to make the step up.
“Osborn is also only 24, even it does feel like he’s been around forever – and he’ll get better, he’ll benefit from working under Chris Wilder and I have absolutely no doubt that Ben will rise to the challenge of playing in the Premier League.
“He has his limitations, of course he does, but ignore the naysayers - Sheffield United have got themselves a fine, fine footballer and a decent bloke, to boot.”