The man everyone wanted to meet

ROGER Osborne was in demand in the summer of 1978 following Ipswich Town's FA Cup final success.He was invited to endless events as everyone wanted to meet the scorer of the winning goal.

Nick Garnham

ROGER Osborne was in demand in the summer of 1978 following Ipswich Town's FA Cup final success.

He was invited to endless events as everyone wanted to meet the scorer of the winning goal.

Osborne said: "I enjoyed it simply because before that people used to request the Paul Mariners, Allan Hunters and Mick Mills to do things and I was always quite happy with that before because I have never been one to seek the limelight. But the fact is I scored the goal and people wanted to meet me and it was a very nice time for me."

However, a knee injury he had been struggling with before the final required an operation, and following open surgery he suffered an infection.

Osborne did not play a single first-team game during the following season - "I was even struggling to play for the reserves" - and he made just four appearances plus two as a substitute in the 1979/80 season.

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"As well as Russell Osman, Terry Butcher and Alan Brazil coming on the scene, Bobby Robson signed the two Dutchmen, Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, who took my place in the team. It was a very exciting time for the club but I was not a part of it."

In February 1981 he was sold to Colchester United for £25,000, after playing 127 times for Ipswich and making a further 22 appearances as a substitute. He only scored 10 goals, including the most famous one in the club's history.

"Bobby had tried to sell me to Cardiff before that but I didn't want to leave the area simply because I was getting to the end of my career and my family were settled - as you know all Suffolk people are settled and don't want to go too far.

"I had no intention of going to Cardiff, even though a £70,000 deal had been agreed, and so I told them my knee was not as good as it should have been. I never told Bobby what I had said and he never talked to me about it.

"I had an inkling there may be a chance for me to play at Colchester. Bobby Roberts, the manager, was a genuine bloke and I always had it in the back of my mind that I would prefer to go there.

"Colchester was a good move for me. I played a lot more games for Colchester than I did for Ipswich and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I was at Ipswich the standard was so high in the First Division you had to play to your maximum all the time. When I went to Colchester I was one of the better players and that allowed me to enjoy the game more."

Osborne spent five years at Colchester - "a lovely, friendly club" - and made 196 appearances and another ten as a substitute, scoring 11 goals, before playing non-league football in the Eastern Counties League.

He spent a season at Sudbury Town, two years at Braintree Town and two years at Felixstowe Town before returning to his roots and playing for Westerfield United in the Suffolk and Ipswich League until he was 45 years old. He also had a spell as manager but nowadays is only involved on the fringes of the club.

After finishing playing professionally Osborne, who still lives in the Ipswich area, started working for one of his brothers, who had a small lorry business.

"He wanted to go on holiday and pulled up outside my house one day and said 'do you fancy driving this while I go on away?' I ended up doing it for ten years!"

He then got a job at Rushmere Sports Centre, on the outskirts of Ipswich, 13 years ago and has been the manager there for the last six years.

Osborne, who has been married to Margaret for 32 years, has three sons - Robert, 29, Carl, 27, and Tom, 23, who all live locally.

He only occasionally visits Portman Road to see Ipswich play these days, although he regularly watches matches on television.

"With the dip in the Town's fortunes and the massive gap between the lesser teams and the top four in the Premiership, it becomes all the more difficult to think in the near future Ipswich might win the FA Cup. Hopefully in the long term it might change, but at the present time it looks a big ask," he said.

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