What Happened Wonderkid: John Bostock

At 14 years old Chelsea had bid £900,000 for him. All the Premier league giants; Manchester United Arsenal and Chelsea were in for him within the next two years. Even Catalan giants FC Barcelona had registered their interest in him. John Bostock a South London boy from Camberwell went to Tottenham Hotspur from Crystal Palace in 2008 at the age of 16 for £700,000.

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Fast forward to 2015 and Bostock is still only 22 years of age but he is a long way away from where he expected to be at this stage of his career.

Simon Jordan the Palace Chairman at the time was outraged as he lost the 16 year old wonderkid for £700,000. He had wanted £2.5million at least. Still it’s big money for a 16 year old regardless and Bostock was the next big thing. Things looked promising for him when he became Spurs’ youngest ever player at 16 years and 295 days in a UEFA Cup match against Dynamo Zagreb in 2008.

However after making three cameo appearances from the bench in the UEFA Cup he languished in Spurs academy and reserves. He needed first team experience so manager Harry Redknapp got him out on loan to learn his trade. It looked like he’d started out perfectly when he scored a brace on his debut for Brentford. However he failed to make any real impact in League One over the course of the next couple of months with Brentford and dropped to the Griffin Park bench. They had no interest in renewing the loan deal.

In the 2010/11 season he went out again this time to Hull and again had a good debut netting a long range strike. But again the same thing happened as did at Brentford and he was out the team and back in North London before the midway point of the season. Back to Spurs reserves for Bostock. The Former England under 17 captain never played a minute in the premier league for Spurs. A few minutes at Cheltenham in an FA Cup match was his only first team appearance. It was his last.

More loans at Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon Town followed but he wasn’t pulling up any trees and couldn’t force his way into those teams as a regular. Harry left and Villas Boas came in and Bostock was back off to Swindon who loaned him at the start of next season. Eleven appearances no goals. Back to Spurs reserves. Four seasons had passed since signing for Tottenham and he was struggling to establish himself in first team football in any division. Maybe time to try a different route? Toronto FC of the MLS took him on loan next but after seven appearances they terminated his loan to end the 2012 season. Bostock was released as a free agent. He was worth 900,000 at 14 and nothing at 21.

In the summer of 2013, Bostock joined Royal Antwerp in the Belgium second tier signing for now Burton Albion boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. They managed a seventh place finish in the league and Bostock managed to put together his first full season in making 31 appearances but only scored one goal. At the start of this season he signed for OH Leuven also in the Belgian second division. He has improved on last season already scoring six goals in 16 appearances so far with his club sitting in sixth position in the league table. He seems to be at home in the OH Leuven team at least for the moment.

Only time will tell whether a move to Belgium will help him to kick on to be the player he was hyped up to be as a teenager. It will certainly allow him to develop away from the spotlight which could be a real positive and the fact that he is still only 22 years old means he still has time. But you have to question whether he has found his level and the supposed future England star still hasn’t proved he can crack it in the Belgian Jupiler League let alone the top flight in England so it’s fair to say that if he carves out a career in the middle echelons of Belgian football he will be a case of: what happened to that Crystal Palace wonderkid; John Bostock?

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