Unfulfilled promise - John Bostock
John Bostock was once hailed as being the next big thing in English football after incredibly making his debut for Crystal Palace at the tender age of 15.
But the midfielder, now 21, has so far failed to live up to his hype.
Bostock made everyone aware of his ability when he became the youngest player to ever play for Palace after making his debut against Watford in October 2007, at the age of 15 years and 287 days.
He also managed to break another record as he once more became the youngest player to start a senior game for the Eagles aged 15 years and 295 days – when they faced Cardiff City in November 2007.
The attack-minded midfield man was on red alert for a host of clubs across Europe. Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United were some of the high profile clubs linked with a move for the then talented youngster.
It was Tottenham Hotspur that managed to lure Bostock to White Hart Lane. But his switch to the North London club was controversial as a tribunal announced that Spurs would pay just £700,000 to secure the 16 year-old’s services – which infuriated Palace chairman Simon Jordan who believed Bostock was worth £2.5m.
After his arrival, with many deeming this to be a massive coup for the club, Bostock saw chances limited at Spurs. Tottenham suffered their worst start to a Premier League season under Juande Ramos – after only managing to clinch two points from eight games.
The ex-Real Madrid manager was unsurprisingly sacked with the club bottom of the league facing a relegation battle.
Nevertheless, this paved the way for Bostock to impress new boss Harry Redknapp but he insisted on signing experienced players in order to secure top-flight safety, and it proved to be successful with the club finishing the campaign mid-table.
Despite not making any appearances in the league Bostock did manage to make cameo appearances from the bench in Spurs’ UEFA Cup matches. His first came against Dynamo Zagreb in November 2008 which made him the clubs youngest ever player at 16 years and 295 days – beating the previous record held by Ally Dick.
During the 2009-10 season the midfielder was loaned out to Brentford where he scored twice making nine appearances in total. But the League One outfit decided not to renew his loan deal in January 2010, which left many perplexed at his inability to have an impact in the third tier of English football.
In the following campaign he was loaned to Hull City and started in fine form for the club when he scored a screamer from 40 yards out in his debut against Swansea City.
But shortly after, Bostock was frozen out of Hull’s starting 11 with the Englishman only able to add another goal against Leeds United – in a match he was also sent off.
He then endured a frustrating year in 2011 where he failed to secure another loan move and went without any first-team action for Spurs. After previously playing for Tottenham in 2008 Bostock had to wait until January 2012 to make his domestic debut in which he played the last eight minutes in their 3-0 FA Cup win over Cheltenham Town – which proved to be his last appearance for the club.
The unfulfilled potential of Bostock was starting to show when he spent the remainder of the season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon Town. This meant the former England U16 international had now incredibly played for five different clubs since leaving Palace without having any real impact.
In the summer of 2012 Tottenham appointed Andre Villas-Boas has their new manager and Bostock was now in the final year of his contract with the chances of being offered a new deal extremely slim.
He once more returned to Swindon Town on loan and surprisingly joined Toronto on loan in the second half of the season.
But Bostock failed to have any sort of impact at the North American side who eventually decided to terminate his loan deal. And at the end of the campaign after five years at Spurs the midfielder, who was unable to play a single minute in the Premier League, was released by the club.
Bostock – who could get an opportunity for international honours with Trinidad and Tobago – is looking for a new club and faces a massive battle to rebuild his once hyped football career. If his early potential was anything to go by the former Palace man should now be an integral part of Spurs’ midfielder area, playing with the likes of in-demand Gareth Bale and Scott Parker.
However, now his career has stalled Bostock will surely be thinking what would have been if he remained at Palace and continued his development. Wilfred Zaha, Nathaniel Clyne and Victor Moses all played regularly for the Eagles being earning moves to Premier League clubs shortly after.
But in fairness to Bostock he is still a young player and having endured frustrating loan spells at various clubs the time is right for him to knuckle down and find a club that is right for him.