England-born midfielder John Bostock said he delayed his Trinidad and Tobago international debut until he managed some stability in his club career.
But, four years since his first call-up from the “Soca Warriors”, the former England National Under-17 Team captain says he is honoured to wear red, black and white on the international stage.
“I’m delighted to be called up for T&T,” Bostock told the TTFA Media. “It’s an honour to be named in the squad and I’m very excited to represent the country of my heritage.”
A box-to-box midfielder with a blistering left foot shot and devilish set piece, Bostock was a surprise inclusion in coach Stephen Hart’s squad to face St Vincent and the Grenadines in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers on March 25 and 29.
But the midfielder, who now represents OH Leuven in the Belgium top flight, pointed to his nomadic career as the reason for the delay.
In nine years as a professional footballer, the 2015/16 season with Leuven marked the first time that Bostock represented the same club for two successive seasons.
“For a while I’ve known of the interest of T&T and it was of course an honour to be considered to be in the coaches’ plans,” said Bostock. “However it was important for me to first be stable at club level. Now definitely feels like the right time and I’m excited to get things on the way.”
Bostock is one of three players in the current squad who were born and raised in England, alongside former England national youth player and right back Justin Hoyte and midfielder Andre Boucaud.
And they follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ronnie Mauge, Chris Birchall, Ian Cox, Jloyd Samuel, Jake Thompson, Anthony Warner and Kevin Austin, who also left England to represent the two island republic.
Birchall played all three games for Trinidad and Tobago at the Germany 2006 World Cup while Cox was a squad member.
Bostock, who has a Trinidadian grandmother, said he was close to his Trinbagonian relatives as a boy and visited Tobago before. He claimed to have kept tabs on the progress of the Warriors too.
“I know the team has been doing very well,” said Bostock. “I’ve been following the results and it’s clear to see that there is a lot of quality and great team spirit.
“I spent some time in Tobago a while back and it was an amazing experience. I’m close to my Trinidadian family in London so I’ve grown up around the culture but I’m looking forward to experiencing it for myself.
“Growing up, I always spoke to my Grandma about potentially playing for the country she was from. With her recent passing it feels like even more of an honour and I know that she would be very proud of me.”
Bostock was Crystal Palace’s youngest first team player after he debuted at 15 and was once courted by the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Barcelona, according to the UK’s Daily Mail, once sent Bostock a pair of then star player Ronaldinho’s boots while Arsenal sent a Cesc Fabregas shirt.
At 16, he chose to join Tottenham Hotspur in an acrimonious split from Palace, who received a mere £700,000 fee, which he was decided by a tribunal.
But in five years at Spurs, Bostock did not make a single Premier League appearance and only a handful of cameos in the Europa League while he spent most of his time on loan spells to Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford and Toronto.
In 2013, Royal Antwerp manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wooed him to Belgium and he played one season at Antwerp before he joined his current club, OH Leuven.
The following are excerpts from a Daily Mail interview with Bostock on his journeyman career:
“I’ve spent so long trying to work out what happened, searching for a reason. I have driven myself crazy thinking about this.
“I’ve never drank alcohol in my life. Never. I didn’t party. I tried to be a good pro. I like a milkshake but that’s as far as it goes.
“I take the game seriously and try to do everything right but it comes down to what you do on the pitch. There are players who might go out a during the week but then do the business on the pitch.
“My big issue was confidence. At 16, I played on instinct, with no fear. The pressure arrived, expectations arrived and when you don’t have that someone there to support you—by that I mean a manager or a coach or a club where there is a plan for you—you feel like you lose control of the situation.
“I signed when Juande Ramos was manager and Damien Comolli was sporting director. It was a very different club to now where Pochettino is giving everyone a shot. No young players were playing.
“In my position, there was Luka Modric, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Gareth Bale—world class players. I came in at 16 and hoped it would be like it was at Palace. It wasn’t.
“When you don’t get a game, when you get put back into the Under 18s, it becomes a huge mental challenge….
“You question everything. Every day, you are pushing on and you believe, and you see other people messing about and getting a breakthrough. You think ‘Will it ever happen for me?’
“I had long discussions with my pastor, who I am very close to at The Christian Life Fellowship in Greenwich. I was hit hard. My mum was hit hard. If you live by other people’s opinions, you become very shaky, like a wave tossed in the sea.
“I over-thought everything, I became almost obsessive. I thought that because of my reputation, I had to do something brilliant in every game. When you think so deeply, you take stuff onto the pitch and look as though you are carrying the weight of the world.
“I couldn’t relax. Every time I made a mistake, I’d be worrying on the pitch what people would say or write. I’d be thinking ‘I’m supposed to be the best player on this pitch and I can’t get it right.’
“I cared too much, if anything. Now I know that a bad performance doesn’t make me a bad person. In the (Tottenham) Under 18’s we had college once a week and worked with a sports psychologist. It was never really in depth, though.
“He was a good guy but it was in groups. I definitely would have benefited from more one-on-one. Sometimes you need to play your way out of it. It’s 90 minutes a week, with 22 people, and that’s it.
“The last two years, that’ s how I’ve viewed it. I have stopped thinking too much. I needed to, for my sanity.
“Jimmy said ‘Just come here and play football.’ Regardless of what people thought, I just wanted the platform to show what I can do.…
“I could have earned more staying in England. The level here I’d say is lower Championship or top of League 1. It is packed with talented young players, the technical level is outrageous.”
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Kirwin, Lasana the men who love Spurs for sure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cESYFveqZ5g
He shud easily make the line up based on his ability and knowledge of top league football.
Think he may downgrade ?
Playing around players (Trinis) who are less technically astute
I think he’ll adapt and our players will learn from his professionalism
I hope we see some of this guy next Tuesday
Former Spurs midfielder John Bostock……………..Gr8
I guess he might be looking for a new club soon since OH Leuven came last in the Belgian Pro League and thus relegated.
just watching the highlights of Bostock… if he plays Levi has to play… disciplined movement off the ball is key for his long range passing to be effective….. if not he would not fit well if guys dont move off the ball (will not be his fault)
I think this will be a good addition. This guy has been playing at a professional level for sometime. He has a lot to prove. Will bring some stability. Seems like he has his head on his shoulders too. Look forward to the two games. 4 to 6 points is a must. 6 points and we advance. Then once you get into the hex…anything can happen. We need to continue deepening our squad
H turned down playing for England to play for T&T?
Daiz Trini love boy!
Nobody answer mih eh………
Hahahaha. I wont!
When Nick De Leon gets here, we should really be flying. All we should really be flying. All we would need is strong competition for Kenwyne Jones upfront, good luck with injuries and enough warm-up matches to gel the team.
When? Not “if”? Hmmm
You seem to be high on De Leon Las lol
We are a little thin on the flanks. And I note that Hughtun doesn’t play there for his club. With Nick, we can have a few decent choices for that area.
Team shaping up man.
Any particular reason for Peltier ommission?
He’s unattached Brian
Well I saw De Leon playing CM yesterday. And interestingly, Mekeil has played at RB for the Rapids in his first two games.
Steups. No comment on Peltier, Brian. Don’t start me on that one.
I heard it said that wide is Nick’s best position Roneil. I’m not sure to be honest. I can’t see any other way into this team but on the flanks. Unless he is exceptional.
Corn Curls unattached ?!?! Queen’s Park looking for players!
Lol. Go brave. Weston signed up Dwane James and Conrad Smith for Barrackpore last season!
Lasana Liburd probably knows and heard this already – but I was told by a very big source in TTFA today that De Leon passport is taking long to process – but he is definitely gonna get a warriors call up this year once all that is sorted
But Innis is not that interested and is seeking his other option to play international ball
Do we know what his health is like? Could he have been given a look in a camp first??
You mean a trial? Stephen Hart follows his players with a statistical data pace that records down to how much touches they take with either foot and how far they run. So I’m sure it isn’t a stab in the dark.
And the squad has Khaleem Hyland, Andre Boucaud and Hughtun Hector who can play that role if necessary anyway. Neveal Hackshaw too.
I don’t see it as a big risk.
K.. time will tell.. Seems to have come out of the blue..
Yeah. Chasing him for a while though. He isn’t the only foreign-born player on the radar either. Looks a good technical player and, hopefully, will help us keep the ball a bit better.
Plenty competition in centre midfield now.
Praying we get 6 points in next couple games..
Yeah. And then loads of friendlies between March and September. I’m hoping there are two or three more games carded for local-based players to strengthen that pool.
Isn’t Bostock a winger ? Lasana Liburd Roneil K Walcott
Surprised we haven’t yet scheduled friendly against Canada..