Derby-born Osborn started his career as a nine-year-old in Nottingham Forest’s youth system. After developing through the age groups, playing at left-back on a frequent basis, he signed a two-year deal after former manager Frank Clark ignored financial freezes on contracts, brought by the tragic death of club owner Nigel Doughty, to secure the youngster’s future at the club. The left-footed midfielder, who is comfortable in the centre or on the wing, captained the Forest Under-21 side before he was promoted to the first team.
He was handed his first taste of senior football at the tail end of the 2013/14 season, after then-caretaker manager Gary Brazil handed him his debut against Ipswich Town. Osborn went on to feature seven more times that season, which saw his notable breakthrough earn him a new five-year contract with the club.
In his full first season around the main squad, the youngster more than proved his worth with a fantastic campaign. In 37 appearances, the midfielder averaged over two chances created per ninety minutes, with an impressive 79% pass accuracy. He got among the goals too, scoring three and banging in his first senior goal in the dying embers of last season’s clash against bitter rivals Derby County, grabbing the winner with a low, powerful effort, writing his name in Forest folklore.
This season, Osborn suffered his first career injury, which was followed up by a severe case of food poisoning. After shaking off both, the midfielder has cemented himself as a key part of the Forest midfield over the winter months. In his nineteen appearances so far, he has a 75% pass accuracy, creating 25 chances, scoring one goal.
Internationally, Osborn has represented the England Under-18s, 19s and 20s squads, totalling five appearances for the Three Lions.
What the experts say
Dougie Freedman, Nottingham Forest manager: “He has the enthusiasm and, if he continues to learn, to develop under the coaching we are giving him, he can play at the very highest level. If he keeps his feet on the ground, if he doesn’t start to believe he has made it already, then he has got a bright, bright future.”
Kelvin Wilson, Nottingham Forest defender: “I think Ben is going to go on to big things, I think he is brilliant. He reminds me a bit of Paul Scholes. Not at his level, perhaps. But he is that type of player.
“I don’t want to blow his trumpet too much, but he is one of the best young players I have worked with during my career.”
Stuart Pearce, former Nottingham Forest manager: “”He has a bright future and wants to learn the game. He is a smashing young lad to work with.”
“He could, if he keeps learning – and I don’t doubt that he will – keep getting better”.
Where does the future lie?
Compared to Forest great Archie Gemmill, Osborn is regarded as a potential star of the future and the Midlands club will be hoping that he will help the side make their long awaited return to the top flight of English football.
After seeing opportunities hard to come by this season thanks to injuries, illness and the impressive form of midfield pair David Vaughan and Henri Lansbury, the English Under-20 international will hope to continue his impressive December and January form, which saw him contribute to Forest’s 13-game unbeaten run.
Under the tutelage of manager Dougie Freedman, he will hope to improve his game further and reach the career heights envisioned by those who watch him.
Discussing his development, Freedman said: “Under our fantastic coaching staff, he is starting to learn; to understand. He now realises that there is a time to hold the ball, to hold his position – that is something I can see right in front of my eyes.
“I see young Ben growing into a tactical player who has understanding. He has previously run around like a headless chicken, using all his energy. Now he is starting to be a very cultured player on the football pitch.”
Daniel Roberts – @djroberts22