John Bostock rebuilding his career in Belgium

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The name probably rings a bell. Around eight years ago, a bright future was foreseen for one of the kingdom's hottest prospects. Nine clubs and twelve managers later, the playmaker now finds himself battling relegation in Belgium's top flight, an odd and unpredictable destination for such a talented individual.

At the age of 15, the midfielder was already making the headlines as he became Crystal Palace's youngest ever player when he came on as a substitute to replace Ben Watson in a 2-0 defeat against Watford.

Gifted with great technique and creativity, Bostock represented his country from the Under 16's to the Under 19's as well as earning the honour to captain his nation in the Under 17's.


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The youngster's early accomplishments obviously attracted attention from all over Europe. Despite Barcelona and Arsenal's interest, Bostock eventually joined Tottenham in 2008. Unfortunately, the controversial move was tainted by a dispute between both clubs over the transfer sum. In the end, a £700,000 fee (plus add-ons) was declared by a tribunal.

After having left his beloved Palace on bad terms, he endured five difficult years with Spurs. In an ambitious squad at the time and with the likes of Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart, Bostock found it tough to breakthrough into the first team.

After a few cameos for the Londoners, he was sent on loan several times to English lower divisions (Brentford, Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon) and even had a spell in Toronto. As he failed miserably to live up to such high expectations, his Tottenham dream came to an end in July 2013 when staff decided to release him.

Although the midfielder had received multiple offers in England, he made the astonishing decision to sign for Belgian second tier team Antwerp.

Why? Because their manager was none other than Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink! The Dutchman (now at Burton) offered Bostock the stability he desperately needed, regular game time and the opportunity for him to rebuild his confidence quietly.

Sadly, in the summer of 2014, after only a year in charge and a seventh place in the league, the Chelsea legend turned down a contract extension and packed his bags. The playmaker decided to do the same as he joined OH Leuven.

His new side had just been relegated from the first division and aspired to an immediate promotion back to the top. Their enthusiasm and pretension charmed Bostock.

Under Jacky Mathijsen's leadership, the Englishman went on to have an excellent season scoring 13 and providing 19 assists. He turned out to be their most valuable player and was a key factor in the club's promotion.

This season, after a difficult start, OH Leuven find themselves 12th in the Belgian Pro League, just a point clear from the relegation zone. Unfortunately, Bostock has not yet managed to reproduce last season's exciting displays in the top flight although he did score the opener during his side's first win against Charleroi back in August.

Thus, the ex-wonderboy has had a troublesome career up until now. However, still only 23, the major part of his career lies ahead of him. Last year's performances have certainly given him (and us!) faith upon which he can hopefully build a solid future and reveal his true potential.

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John Bostock
Tottenham Hotspur
Crystal Palace

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