Chased by the world at 15, former Spurs starlet Bostock is now on loan at Swindon but insists… I can still reach for the stars
01:01 GMT, 7 December 2012
At the age of 15 years and 287 days John Bostock became the most wanted teenager in world football.
Ronaldinho's signed boots were sent from Barcelona and shirts worn by Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas arrived in the post as part of the seduction process.
Now: John Bostock is at League One Swindon
Then: Bostock at the London Nautical School
Bostock had just made his debut for
his boyhood club Crystal Palace and everybody wanted a piece of a kid
who learned his skills on the streets of Camberwell, south-east London.
Tottenham snatched him in the summer of 2008, paying 700,000 for his
talent and promising to take him all the way to the very top under
20, he is on loan at League One side Swindon Town, fighting for his
place in Paolo Di Canio's team as they prepare to play in front of 6,000
fans at Doncaster Rovers.
'I'm desperate to be a footballer,' he admitted.
'I am a footballer. I want to be a top footballer. There have been
loads of setbacks at Tottenham, but then there are setbacks for players
at every club.
'I'm only human and I made a decision to leave Palace which I thought was the best for me.
'Palace fans were frustrated, but I didn't want to frustrate them – I'm
still a Palace fan and I went to every home game between the ages of
five and 15.
Promise: Bostock at Crystal Palace (left) and Tottenham (right)
The lost boys
Freddy Adu – Age 23
Signed a reported $1m deal with Nike as a teenager and joined DC United at 14. He made the MLS All-Star team twice before joining Benfica and making his full USA debut. Loaned to Monaco, Belenenses, Aris and Caykur Rizespor before signing for Philadelphia Union.
Nii Lamptey – Age 37
Hailed by Pele as 'my natural successor' and signed for Anderlecht at 16. Scored on his Ghana debut and moved to PSV Eindhoven and then Aston Villa in 1994. He was cheated by his agent and, after playing for clubs all over the world, he returned to Ghana and now runs a football academy.
Florent Sinama Pongolle – Age 28
The U17 World Championship player of the tournament joined Liverpool in 2001 from Le Havre and scored four league goals. Moved to Recreativo de Huelva, then Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon. He now plays for Russian side FC Rostov.
'Sometimes I look back and think what might have been, but I was a young player. I was hungry and I wanted to develop.'
He made a handful of Europa League appearances when Harry Redknapp
replaced Ramos, but his career has never taken off at Tottenham.
When he has the ball at his feet he
is still magical, but he has never been given the chance to thrive in
Tottenham's first team.
'When I joined Spurs I wanted to turn into the players I was playing
alongside – Berbatov, Modric, Palacios and Bale,' he added. 'They were
internationals and I aspired to be like them.
'They were some of the best players in
Europe and I was just a young man learning my trade. Before I left
Palace there was a lot of interest from some top clubs, but I was just a
young kid kicking a ball around and I tried to ignore the distractions.
'I was fortunate to have a good grounding from my parents, so that has helped.'
At times his life has been on warp-speed.
He spent the first year at Spurs living with a family near the club's
old training ground in Chigwell before he later shared an apartment with
Bostock married when he was still a
teenager and that relationship has helped the devout Christian through
some difficult periods.
Big match: Bostock made his competitive debut against Dinamo Zagreb in UEFA Cup
Chasing the dream: Bostock has also been on loan at Hull, Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford
'Sometimes Harry (Redknapp) would call me into his office and tell me
where he wanted me to improve,' he added. 'I've been around for so long
that people think I'm much older, maybe 23 or 24 – but I'm not. I'm a
student of the game and I'm hungrier than ever.
'As a young player, when I made my Palace debut I dreamed of becoming a great player and playing at the highest level.
'I've had to dig really deep in the past four years and it's been a really challenging period of my life.
'There have been highs and lows, but
without challenges or resistance you can't improve. I feel as though I
am coming through.'
As part of his development strategy he was sent on loan to Hull, Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford.
It was a steep learning curve at first, adapting to the change of
environment after training with seasoned internationals at Tottenham
National service: Bostock training with England U19's
'This is the first time I have been on loan and been given the chance to play centre midfield, which is my best position,' he added.
'Playing football in League One is a totally different environment. I've had to adapt when the ball is up in the air a lot on a freezing cold day and develop other parts of my game.
'People want me to use my skill in the right areas and every manager I have worked under has tried to make me a more complete player. I have worked with some great people. Neil Warnock gave me my debut against Watford, Micky Hazard and Gary Issot at Palace worked with me between 13 and 16.
'Tim Sherwood, Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey all helped me at Spurs and Paolo Di Canio is a Premier League legend – he loves the game.'
After the challenge of competing for a place at Tottenham, Bostock is ready for the next one.