Former Tottenham midfielder, John Bostock has admitted that some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Barcelona, were after his signature when he was a teenager before he eventually agreed on a move to Tottenham.
Bostock came through the Crystal Palace ranks and made his first-team debut for the Eagles aged just 15 years and 287 days, still holding the distinction for being the youngest debutant in the club’s history.
He completed a move to Tottenham a little over a year later and his signing was thought to be a major coup for the Lilywhites at the time as Bostock was considered a generational talent.
However, he only made four appearances for Spurs during his three years at the club and, after a series of unsuccessful loan spells, he was eventually released in the summer of 2013.
Now 28, the midfielder is back in English football with Nottingham Forest after stints in Belgium, France and Turkey.
When asked about the interest in him when he was a youngster, he told BBC Sport: “You name the club, I had interest from them. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool – the who’s who of European football.
“When I was 14, Barcelona offered me a 10-year contract. Ronaldinho was my favourite player at the time so they sent me a signed poster from him. I’ve still got it at my house in London. It said: ‘To John from Ronaldinho.'”
“My family and my agent thought it was in my best interests to go to Tottenham. The plan, the set-up, the players I’d be training with. They thought it would be best for my development. If I’m honest I didn’t really have a voice. I was 15 – I saw a paper on the table and I was told to sign it.”
Bostock admitted that he found it difficult walking into a club the size of Tottenham as a teenager and revealed that he started losing confidence after a couple of failed loan spells.
He said: “At the time it didn’t feel bigger than Palace. But it was a different size of club. You look at the players that were playing ahead of me – a future Ballon d’Or winner in Luka Modric and there was Gareth Bale.
“Every position had at least two internationals. From as early as I remember I wanted to be the best player in the world and to win the Ballon d’Or.
“I saw Ronaldinho win these trophies and I just thought I want to be that guy. I pinned my identity on that and I thought if I didn’t achieve that I was a failure.
“Before you know it you start questioning ‘well am I really that good? Am I really that amazing a player?’
“Then you start to look at people’s opinions of you – it’s a dangerous spiral for any person, especially in sport, once you start to question yourself.”
The midfielder also admitted that he regrets leaving Palace more than rejecting Barcelona.
Bostock added: I do have regrets. Maybe the big regret wasn’t even not joining Barcelona but leaving Palace.
“I think that’s part of life, knowing that you could have made a better decision. But I wasn’t really in a place to make those decisions. I had people making them for me and I genuinely know they had my best interest at heart.
“It’s been an uncomfortable journey, but one I probably wouldn’t change.”
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