Obituary: John Osborne
Thursday 12 November 1998
His playing pomp was spent in the English top division with West Bromwich Albion, for whom he preserved a clean sheet in their single-goal FA Cup final victory over Everton in 1968. But the tall, rather spidery Osborne's athletic exploits between the posts accounted for only part of his appeal to fans of the Baggies. Equally important was his engaging, outgoing personality which ensured a warm rapport with paying customers at the Hawthorns, even when the side was struggling.
Osborne spent his formative years as an outfielder, winning England schoolboy honours as a wing-half and being converted into a keeper only in his late teens. His first professional club was Chesterfield - traditional nurturers of goalkeeping talent - and Osborne achieved more than a century of appearances for the Spireites before joining Albion for pounds 10,000 in January 1967.
Instantly installed as first choice, Osborne emerged as an agile shot- stopper, a generally reliable claimer of crosses and a courageous diver at feet, who was blessed with a shrewd positional sense and who radiated confidence. For several seasons, under the enterprising management of Alan Ashman, he was part of a compact, attractive team which held their own in the middle reaches of the old first division and reached Wembley for a second time in 1970, when they lost the league cup final to Manchester City.
Thereafter Osborne suffered injuries - he was dubbed "the bionic goalkeeper" after a plastic joint was inserted into a finger - and he lost his place intermittently, even retiring briefly in 1972. After a few months he returned to the Hawthorns, but was unable to prevent Albion's relegation to the second division in 1973. After languishing for a term in Peter Latchford's shadow he recovered his berth and starred in a revived side which, now guided by Jonny Giles, regained a place among the elite in 1976.
When Osborne left full-time football - aged 37 in 1978, after 312 senior outings for the Baggies - many believed he would pursue a career in the media, for which he had apparently paved the way by excelling on the television show Quiz Ball in 1969/70 and then hosting his own local radio programme. Instead he opted to work in the promotions department of a local newspaper, and then became commercial manager of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.
John Osborne, footballer: born Barlborough, Derbyshire 1 December 1940; played for Chesterfield 1960-67, West Bromwich Albion 1967-72, 1973-78, Walsall on loan 1973; married (two children); died Evesham, Worcestershire 7 November 1998.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rape threats, death threats and a police investigation after video poking fun at an Islamic Party in Malaysia goes viral
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Sweeney Todd, theatre review: Emma Thompson returns to London stage after 25 years in absurdly deluxe ENO production
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
Tidal: Madonna insists Jay Z's new streaming service is 'not about consumption and greed'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men