Nottingham Forest's Ben Osborn: 'Derby goal is all fans know me for'
Ben Osborn has already ensured his place in the history books at Nottingham Forest.
Anyone who scores a 92nd-minute winner against Derby County is pretty much guaranteed cult-hero status.
"It's all the fans know me for," he jokes, recalling the goal that beat the Rams in January last year and proved a memorable high point of Reds legend Stuart Pearce's time in charge.
The 21-year-old midfielder has been proving he has the substance to back up his stylish first Forest goal ever since.
And winning the Football League's Young Player of the Month award for January just confirms what many Reds supporters and manager Dougie Freedman have been saying.
'That goal' and steady improvement
"Scoring there was obviously a highlight," Osborn told BBC Sport. "It was a special moment to beat Derby away. But there have been a few others.
"When I first got in to the team it was amazing, and we were top of the league for a while at the start of last season."
Osborn's winner ended a miserable run and temporarily helped prolong Pearce's stay as manager.
But following Pearce's sacking, Derby-born Osborn has continued to flourish under Freedman, culminating in the Football League award that puts him alongside an illustrious list of previous winners including Dele Alli, Wilfried Zaha, Patrick Bamford and Victor Moses.
|Five for the future: Football League Young Player award winners 2015-16|
|August: Ryan Fraser|
|September: Rico Henry|
|October: Moussa Dembele|
|November: Jermaine Anderson|
|December: Tom Lockyer|
"I have never won anything like this before," he said. "It was a bit of a shock. I have seen some of the players who have won it and there are some great players.
"It's good recognition for the way I have been playing.
"I had a tough start this season with injuries and the illness but it is good to get back in the team and get a run of games. I have progressed and definitely got better, both physically and technically.
"I have been consistent and have added a couple of assists and a goal to go with that."
Osborn's return to full fitness coincided with a fine run which saw Forest go 13 games unbeaten before Saturday's home defeat against Huddersfield Town.
He has made 23 appearances this season and started all five league games in January, scoring his first goal of the season in the 1-1 draw against Charlton.
Freedman has no doubt Osborn has played a vital part in Forest's climb up the table.
"He is crucial," said Freedman. "We lost Ben at the beginning of the season and not a lot was said about it.
"Ben is somebody that I have a got a lot of time for. He will be one of the first on the teamsheet if he continues like he has been in training.
"It's an award that is very well deserved. I am sure he will cherish it, but I am sure he will move on quickly and hopefully we will have more conversations about Ben winning awards."
Freedman feels Osborn has developed a great deal as he approaches the end of just his second full season.
"Ben's contribution has been fantastic, not just on the field but with the way he represents the club," added the 41-year-old Scot.
"He is fully committed with lots of heart. And of late he has started playing with his head and a bit more maturity.
"Ben has many, many assets but his main ones are his energy and wonderful left foot. He has a good passing range, a good temperament and has changed his off-the-field activities in terms of how he prepares and how he looks and studies the game.
"He has bought into a training regime that is very intensive, so is getting stronger.
"He is really coming on. He works hard every day and that attribute will get you places. He has a big future; he is an exceptional talent."
Osborn hopes his progression will help bring more players through the youth system at the City Ground.
And, given the financial restrictions because of Forest's transfer embargo, Osborn believes the next generation of youngsters could have a big part to play.
"The manager doesn't have to play me," he said. "There are probably bigger names but he has stuck with and I have come through. Hopefully it does inspire the other young lads.
"If the club doesn't have to spend money and can bring players through then it's a bonus for everyone and there's a better chance than ever to get in the team."