Russell Osman was part of Ipswich Town’s most successful era as a football club. The club won the 1978 FA Cup and the 1981 UEFA Cup. Under the management of Sir Bobby Robson for the majority of his Town career. Dictate The Game were lucky enough to interview Russell Osman in January 2018…
Russell Osman appeared in 1981 film, Escape to Victory, and we asked Russell why he appeared in the film, and the answer was an interesting one.
Why did you appear in ‘Escape to Victory’? Did you ever think that you would be in a film alongside Pele and Sylvester Stallone?
Bobby Robson had a meeting with the players one day and asked if anyone fancied going to Budapest. I agreed as I had nothing planned that summer, details were very basic to start with.
Your most successful period in your playing career was at Ipswich between 1976-1985, under the management of Sir Bobby Robson. What would you say was your most proud moment at the Suffolk side?
My proudest moment at Ipswich Town Football Club was winning the UEFA Cup [in 1981] and playing in every match that season, plus also playing 4 international games for England.
Russell spent the majority of his Town career under Sir Bobby. We wondered what it was like to play for such an icon of the game in his first managerial role, so we asked this next..
You spent the majority of your time in Suffolk under the legend Sir Bobby Robson. How was it to play under Sir Bobby?
Bobby Robson kept the game very simple, pass the ball well, control it instantly, and be fitter than any other team.
What was Russell’s worst moment in football? Leaving Ipswich…
My worst moment in football was being told that I was to leave Ipswich. I had been sent off the night before at QPR in a quarter final replay, which we won. The the next day I saw Bobby Ferguson and he asked to see me in his office. I thought it was for a bollocking for getting sent off the night before but he asked if I wanted to talk about my contract.
I was surprised but even more so when told that I had to leave. No new contract and the agreement with Bobby Robson of a testimonial was not going to be forthcoming. I was out of the door, and hardly selected again from then on until the end of the season. I could have played the second leg of the League Cup semi final against Norwich City, which we lost. Instead of playing I was in the stand watching, I was not even on the bench.
Was there a defining moment when you knew you could make a living out of football?
Never was a defining moment, I was lucky to be at the right club at the right time!
Do you think it’s easier or harder to get into football in today’s game? Why?
It is much harder to get into the game now as a player. Too many from overseas, same argument for managers. There’s too many on the roundabout!
The games today is so vastly different from my era. You have great pitches all year round. They never play on mud, snow or frozen grounds. It’s luxury every step of the way.
If you weren’t in football, what do you think you would have done instead?
If I wasn’t in football I think I would have been involved in another sport at a pro level. Either rugby or cricket.
Would you say your managing days are over now, or is this something you want to get back in to?
I think my managing days are past me now. Coaching would be a different option and I still feel that I could coach players to play good attractive football.
There are so many football quotes out there that are known by every football fan, such as Kevin Keegan’s “I will love it if we beat them…love it”. Sir Bobby’s ‘what is a club’ also. We asked Russell what the best piece of advice was he had been given
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given in regards to football.
Best advice given to me was from Bobby Robson. “Play with your brains like Bobby Moore does.”
Who is the best player you’ve managed, and who is the best player you’ve played alongside?
I managed some terrific players at Bristol City, shame my time was cut short by a new board of directors! The best player that I played alongside for Ipswich was Kevin Beattie, shame that injury cut his career short. It wouldn’t have happened today!
Best player outside of ITFC was Matt Le Tissier. You just have to watch the variety of goals that he scored to understand what a natural talent he was.
Dictate The Game really enjoyed interviewing Russell. We’d like to thank him for taking the time to answer our questions
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