Good things come to those who wait – just ask AFC Bournemouth’s Dan Gosling.
Restricted to a solitary league start during his first season with the Cherries, Gosling probably never expected to become one of the club’s leading appearance-makers in the Premier League.
Eddie Howe’s first signing following the Cherries’ first season back in the second tier, the midfielder arrived on a free transfer after leaving Newcastle at the end of 2013/14.
And despite netting four League Cup goals in his first six games, the form of Harry Arter and Andrew Surman resulted in Gosling being used predominantly from the bench in his first season.
A silver lining for the Devonian was adding a Championship winners’ medal to his collection, which also includes the goal-of-the-season award at Everton in 2008/09 and a European Under-19 Championship runners-up medal with England in 2009.
Spotted by Plymouth Argyle scouts playing for hometown club Brixham United when he was 12, Gosling made his debut as a 16-year-old when he came off the bench in the Pilgrims’ 1-0 win over Hull City in the Championship in December 2006.
He earned a big-money move to Everton in January 2008, making a substitute appearance in the final of the FA Cup in 2009 when the Toffees lost out to Chelsea.
Gosling featured 22 times in the Premier League for Everton and made 24 top-flight appearances during a four-year stay at Newcastle, with a combination of factors – including injury – preventing him from adding to his games tally for both clubs.
But after biding his time during his debut season at Vitality Stadium, Gosling is now the club’s sixth highest appearance-maker in the Premier League, his total of 126 just three behind Charlie Daniels.
Discussing his career, Gosling, who celebrated his 30th birthday by helping the Cherries defeat Aston Villa on Saturday, told afcb.co.uk: “To get promoted to the Premier League in my first season here was just what I had been hoping for.
“When I left Newcastle, I took a step down and hoped to take a step up immediately. That’s essentially what happened. On my first day here, I saw the quality and it took me by surprise a little.
“I didn’t play a lot because the team was performing so well and it was the same for Adam Smith and Junior Stanislas.
“I made one start in the Championship season which, out of 46 games, was quite incredible really.
“It was tough to take because we all felt we could offer the team a lot but the team was winning, we had great players and, ultimately, the gaffer had decisions to make.
“We understood it and we all helped the team. In training, we kept our heads down and worked hard.
“The togetherness that season was amazing and I certainly didn’t want to disrupt that. The end goal was the Premier League and we achieved that.
“I came back fitter and stronger for the following season and ended up making 28 starts out of 38 so it just goes to show patience and hard work can you get your rewards.
“I remember my stats for those first two seasons – one start in the Championship and 28 starts in the Premier League.
“Since then, I’ve gone on to establish myself in the Premier League with Bournemouth and this is probably the best time I’ve had playing football in my career at this club.
“I owe the manager, the coaching staff and everyone else a huge debt of gratitude for believing in me and bringing me here. I had to work and sacrifice a lot to get where I am but, hopefully, there will be a lot more games to come.”
Asked whether there had been an element of frustration at not playing more games for Everton and Newcastle, Gosling replied: “Not so much Everton, it was a good time.
“I was young and went into a big club with some top players. It was an eye-opener and I was pretty star-struck.
“That part of my career went really well. I played a bit, I was young and I scored a couple of important goals.
“I was at Newcastle for four years and it was a little stale. I feel I wasted two or three years of my career there. Football is only a short career but, at the time, it was hard to get out. I trained, worked hard and kept my head down and, ultimately, I feel I got my rewards.”
Gosling is one of a number of Cherries players to hold the UEFA B coaching licence and says moving into management is something he would consider further down the line.
“In the short term, I’ve got plenty of years left and, hopefully, at Premier League level with Bournemouth,” he said.
“I’m very happy here and so are my family. We’ve made this our home so I’d be delighted to stay here for a lot longer and play Premier League football.
“And then, who knows?
“I’m not thinking too much about what happens then. I’ve done my UEFA B licence and that’s probably something I’ll look to get into.
“But while I’m still playing at a good level, I think concentrating on that is probably the best thing right now.
“I look at coaching and managing as being for me when I finish playing. Hopefully, it’s a few years off yet.
“I still have a lot of learning to do. I watch games from a slightly different angle now but I’m still very fixated on playing. We’ll see. It’s something I would definitely like to give a go.
“It’s not just because I’ve turned 30 because even a couple of years ago, I was looking at it.
“I like certain managers and certain styles and have my own style that I feel is good.
“But it’s about trying to relay those messages to a group and put on sessions. That’s the next level.
“I don’t just want to retire and not do anything. I want to stay in the game. I love football and it’s been my life since way back. I love playing and going on the training ground so we’ll have to see what the future holds after I have finished playing.”
This is probably the best time I’ve had playing football in my career at this club