Ian Bowyer won the First Division title and two European Cups with Nottingham Forest.

He also took in 564 appearances across two spells at the City Ground.

The ‘legend’ tag can be bandied around a bit too frequently nowadays, but here is a man who most definitely fits the mould.

Bowyer was not the most talented member of Brian Clough’s ‘Miracle Men’.

He was, however, part of the glue that held everything together.

And without that stooping header against Cologne in April 1979, where would we be today?

The history books would certainly have a very different look to them.

A Jack of all trades who became the conqueror of Europe – twice.

To compare these almost mythical figures from yesteryear with the stars of today is a frankly pointless task.

Nobody is going to come close.


(Photo by /Mark Leech Sports Photography/Getty Images)

There are, however, certain brackets into which similar skills sets can be thrust.

So while Bowyer was Forest’s Mr Versatile in the 1970s, that moniker has since been passed to Ben Osborn.

Left-back, central midfield, winger, substitute – an academy graduate ticks plenty of boxes.

Osborn has also passed the 200-appearance mark for Forest this season, placing him in some illustrious company.

He is never going to be held in the same regard as the likes of Bowyer, but there is a likeness.

And that is not lost on Martin O’Neill – a man who knows all about heroes of the past.

The Reds boss has said of Osborn in the Nottingham Post: “I did not want to draw that comparison between Ian and Ben, but playing in a number of positions – I think you always want to settle into a position that you feel is your best.

“I have been involved in more than 10 games and maybe I am not quite sure what that is yet [in Osborn’s case].

“I think Ian Bowyer’s point was that you can suffer from that versatility. But I don’t think Ian was left out too often – and Ben has been playing pretty regularly as well.”

A very typical O’Neill assessment.

The Northern Irishman is fond of highlighting the pros and cons of any argument.

Osborn is a useful asset and a key part of the Forest project.



But what is his best position?

A very good question and one which has become almost impossible to answer.

Having first broken through in the middle of the park, he may well consider that to be his favoured role.

There is, however, fierce competition in that area of the field.

If the likes of Claudio Yacob cannot get a game in the engine room, what hope does Osborn have?

And when it comes to left-footed options in wide attacking berths, Joe Lolley has established a monopoly in said shirt.

Left-back remains a needs must option and is an experiment that all concerned will probably consider to have been forced upon them all too frequently this season.

That leaves no obvious hole for him to fill.

Osborn continues to see plenty of game time though.

And, like Bowyer before him, a willingness to do any job for the greater good may yet win him a more favourable standing in the eyes of the Forest faithful.

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