Osman can gain just as much satisfaction in his new Town role

RUSSELL Osman has his first Ipswich Town game for 26 years tomorrow and he is just excited as he was when he made his debut as an 18-year defender against Chelsea in September 1977.

Osman turned 52 on Valentine’s Day and returned to Portman Road this week as coach to the Town’s Under-18 side as a replacement for the departed Mike Pejic.

Norwich City are Ipswich’s opponents in the Academy League at Playford Road tomorrow morning.

“It’s wonderful to be back,” said Osman. “I left to go to Leicester when I was 26, and 26 years later I’m back again.

“Ipswich has always held a great place in my heart, but it’s now time to look forwards rather than backwards.”

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Osman played all 66 games in 1980/81 when Ipswich won the UEFA Cup, finished runners-up in the old First Division and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

“That’s 30 years ago,” he added.

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“It would be nice to be celebrating silverware won by the current team than looking back 30 years.

“It was of course wonderful to be part of the success under the management of Sir Bobby Robson, and it would be just as satisfying to help produce youngsters to help the club win trophies.

“It would be great to watch then having come through playing in the first team and seeing the fruits of my labours.”

Osman admits that he thought his chances of returning to work for Ipswich had probably disappeared.

“With every change at Ipswich it was getting less and less of a chance for me to come back.

“I always wished the new manager and coaches well as I love to see Ipswich doing well.

“Ipswich developed me and I will always be grateful, and it is even more important these days to find players and help them progress to the senior side.

“It’s not easy and I’ve seen the good and the bad sides of producing young players with my three sons having gone through the academy process and having worked myself at Bristol City.

“This experience will hold me in good stead.

“I know Paul Jewell and we have played golf and been on a few trips together.

“We have mutual friends and after I applied for the post I was interviewed and was offered the job.

“I’m enjoying being at a training ground having missed the banter, the giggles and the laughs.

“Some of the lads will have to be picked up and it will not always be easy but we have some talented youngsters here to work with.”

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