Ben Foster (footballer)

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Ben Foster
Ben Foster cropped.jpg
Foster playing for Birmingham City in 2010
Personal information
Full name Ben Anthony Foster[1]
Date of birth (1983-04-03) 3 April 1983 (age 31)[2]
Place of birth Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[3]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current team
West Bromwich Albion
Number 1
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2001 Racing Club Warwick
2001–2005 Stoke City 0 (0)
2002 Bristol City (loan) 0 (0)
2002–2003 Tiverton Town (loan) 16 (0)
2004 Stafford Rangers (loan) 1 (0)
2004 Kidderminster Harriers (loan) 2 (0)
2005 Wrexham (loan) 17 (0)
2005–2010 Manchester United 12 (0)
2005–2006 Watford (loan) 44 (0)
2006–2007 Watford (loan) 29 (0)
2010–2012 Birmingham City 38 (0)
2011–2012 West Bromwich Albion (loan) 37 (0)
2012– West Bromwich Albion 54 (0)
National team
2007– England 8 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12:52, 5 June 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21:48, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Ben Anthony Foster (born 3 April 1983) is an English professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for West Bromwich Albion.

Foster began his professional career in 2001 with Stoke City, having joined from Racing Club Warwick. However, he never made an appearance for Stoke, and spent time on loan with Bristol City, Tiverton Town, Stafford Rangers, Kidderminster Harriers and Wrexham. He switched permanently to Manchester United in July 2005, but again struggled to break into the first team, and he spent two successive seasons on loan to Watford from August 2005 until the end of the 06–07 season. Having played just 23 times for Manchester United (although he also played in the Football League Cup winning sides of 2009 and 2010), Foster switched to Birmingham City in May 2010. An ever-present in the league for Birmingham, Foster was also part of the Birmingham side who won the 2011 League Cup; he made a total of 43 appearances in that season. Following Birmingham's relegation to the Football League Championship at the end of the season, Foster was loaned to West Bromwich Albion, and moved there permanently in June 2012.

Internationally, Foster made his international debut for England in February 2007 against Spain. Although he announced his retirement from international football in May 2011, he returned in February 2013, and was selected in England's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Club career[edit]

Stoke City[edit]

Born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, Foster started his football career at Racing Club Warwick in 2000. He spent a season there before he joined Stoke City on 25 April 2001 after being spotted by scout Colin Dobson.[4] During his time at Stoke, Foster had loan spells at Bristol City,[5] Tiverton Town,[6] Stafford Rangers, Kidderminster Harriers[7] and Wrexham.[8] Foster sustained a cruciate ligament injury in June 2003 while playing tennis with his brother,[9] which sidelined him for a period of six months.[10][11] After his recovery, Foster was awarded the number 14 shirt and received his maiden call up to the Potters' first team for a Division One match versus Wimbledon on 17 January 2004.[12] He remained on the bench for the 1-0 victory and was an unused substitute on a further six occasions during the remainder of the 2003/04 season.[12] Foster was called into the first team squad for four matches during the 2004/05 season.[13]

Manchester United[edit]

While playing for Wrexham on loan from Stoke, Foster was spotted by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who was watching his son, Darren, in the 2005 Football League Trophy Final. United had been struggling for several years to replace former goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, and Ferguson decided to move for the young Foster, making a bid of £1 million for the player.[14] Stoke agreed a deal with United on 15 July 2005,[15] and the transfer was completed on 19 July.[16]

Loan moves to Watford[edit]

Foster training with Watford

Not yet ready for first team action, Foster was sent on a season-long loan to Watford on 1 August 2005,[17] with the expectation of a second loan the season after.[18] Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd claimed that "he's better than current Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar" and believes that "he is going to be the best goalkeeper in the world."[19] Manchester United manager Ferguson suggested that Foster would succeed Van der Sar as first-choice keeper at United and eventually replace Paul Robinson as "England's next goalkeeper."[20] Foster helped Watford reach the Premier League by beating Leeds United 3–0 in the Championship play-off final.[21]

He re-signed for Watford on a second season-long loan on 10 August 2006 after Manchester United secured the services of Polish goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak on loan from West Bromwich Albion.[22] Foster's performances during Watford's Premier League campaign earnt him the club's "Player of the Season" award. Aidy Boothroyd expressed his desire to keep Foster at Watford for a third season on a number of occasions during the 2006–07 season, but his hopes were dashed in January 2007 when Alex Ferguson announced his intention to bring Foster back to Old Trafford at the end of the season.[23]

Return to Manchester United[edit]

In June 2007, it was announced that Foster would undergo surgery on a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee, forcing him to miss the start of the 2007–08 season.[24] He returned to light training towards the end of 2007, setting a February 2008 target for his return.[25] He made a comeback in a reserves game against Middlesbrough on 6 March 2008,[26] before making his debut for the Manchester United first team on 15 March 2008. With Edwin van der Sar injured and Tomasz Kuszczak suspended for a red card against Portsmouth in the FA Cup Sixth Round the previous Saturday, Alex Ferguson had to shelve plans to ship Foster out on loan again, and the young goalkeeper was promoted to the No. 1 jersey for the away match against Derby County. United won the game 1–0, with Foster making two crucial saves en route to keeping a clean sheet.[27] Although he was impressed with Foster's performance in the game against Derby,[28] Ferguson did not start him for the following match against Bolton Wanderers, opting for the returning Kuszczak.[29]

After being selected as a substitute for Manchester United's opening game of the 2008–09 Champions League against Villarreal on 17 September 2008,[30] Foster then played for the reserves against Blackburn Rovers the following day. Unfortunately, during the game, he fell awkwardly and suffered a twisted ankle, putting him out of contention for six to eight weeks.[31] Fortunately for Foster, his recovery time was quicker than was first estimated and he returned to reserve team action on 14 October 2008, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2–1 win over Oldham Athletic reserves.[32] Foster then made his first Champions League appearance – his second for the Manchester United first team – on 5 November 2008, in a 1–1 away draw to Celtic.[33]

Foster was originally selected in Manchester United's squad for the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup, but after suffering a broken finger in training the day before the squad was due to depart for Japan, he was replaced by Ben Amos.[34] On 1 March 2009, Alex Ferguson named Foster in goal for the 2009 League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. After keeping a clean sheet in normal time, Foster then made a save from Tottenham's Jamie O'Hara in the consequent penalty shoot-out. This, combined with a miss from David Bentley, gave United a 4–1 win in the shootout and the 2009 League Cup title. After the game, Foster was given the Alan Hardaker Trophy for his man of the match performance.[35] It was revealed after the match that Foster had used an iPod to help with his preparations in the penalty shootout, prompting discussion about the use of technology in the game.[36]

Foster was rewarded for his performance by being made United's second-choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the season, starting three more matches when Alex Ferguson chose to rest Edwin van der Sar ahead of important matches. However, he had been attempting to play with a ruptured ligament in his right thumb, which became aggravated, necessitating surgery which ruled him out of United's title run-in, the Champions League Final against Barcelona and England's 2010 World Cup qualifiers in June.[37] Following speculation that United were in the market for a new goalkeeper to replace the soon-to-retire Edwin van der Sar, Foster signed a new four-year contract with the club. Alex Ferguson commented that Manchester United "genuinely see him [Foster] as a successor to Edwin van der Sar".[38]

With Van der Sar injured for the first two months of the 2009–10 season, Foster was given the opportunity to nail down the number one shirt in the 2009 FA Community Shield defeat to Chelsea, where his mistakes led to two Chelsea goals and made no saves in the penalty shootout.[39] Foster continued to play in the League, starting with the opening day victory over Birmingham City.[40] In wins against Arsenal and Manchester City, Foster received heavy criticism for massive errors that led to opposition goals.[citation needed] Manager Alex Ferguson stated that he believes in Foster's abilities and potential;[41] however, eight days later, Foster was again criticised for a mistake which led to a Sunderland goal in a 2–2 draw,[42] and left out of the England squad the next day with bruised ribs.[43] However, following Robert Green's red card in the match against Ukraine and consequent suspension, Foster was given the all-clear by doctors and recalled to the England squad for the match against Belarus on 14 October.[44] Foster played only two games for Manchester United after the Sunderland match; a League Cup win against Championship side Barnsley, and a Champions League tie versus Beşiktaş, with Manchester United's progress from the group already secured.[45] He was displaced from the first team in Van der Sar's absence by Tomasz Kuszczak, and on occasion, reserve goalkeeper Ben Amos took Foster's place on the substitutes bench.[46] Foster started his first game for three months against West Ham in February 2010, keeping a clean sheet in a 3–0 victory.[47]

Birmingham City[edit]

Foster taking a goal kick at Emirates Stadium in October 2010

After accepting that in order to play regularly he needed to leave Manchester, whether on loan or permanently,[48] Foster signed a three-year contract with Premier League club Birmingham City on 19 May 2010.[49] The fee was not disclosed, though media speculation suggested an initial fee of £4 million, potentially rising to £6 million with add-ons.[50] The club were seeking a replacement for Foster's fellow England international goalkeeper Joe Hart, who had returned to Manchester City after a successful 2009–10 season on loan at Birmingham.[51] Foster made his Birmingham debut on the opening day of the 2010–11 season in a 2–2 draw away to Sunderland.[52] On his home debut the following week against Blackburn Rovers, he saved a penalty from Morten Gamst Pedersen as Birmingham won the match 2–1.[53]

Criticised for an error in England's 2–1 defeat to France,[54] Foster produced a man-of-the-match performance on his return to League duty on 20 November as Birmingham beat reigning champions Chelsea 1–0. Though Chelsea had 32 shots at goal, Foster made a series of excellent saves,[55] including one described by BBC Sport as "staggering" to deny Didier Drogba's "fierce close-range downward header".[56] Foster made a "blunder" in the televised League Cup semi-final, allowing a soft shot from Carlton Cole slip underneath him, which gave West Ham United a 2–1 lead after the first leg.[57] However, he made up for this with a display in the final that earned him the Alan Hardaker Trophy for the second time in three years, as Birmingham defeated Arsenal 2–1 to claim their first major trophy in 48 years.[58]

Despite Birmingham's City League Cup Final win, they were relegated to The Championship on the final day of the 2010–11 Premier League Season.

Because of his "series of inspirational performances", Foster was named Birmingham's Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season for 2010–11.[59]

West Bromwich Albion[edit]

Foster in his presentation as a West Bromwich Albion player in 2011

Foster joined Premier League club West Bromwich Albion on loan on 29 July 2011, changing places with Albion goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, both players signing a loan deal for the whole of the 2011–12 season.[60] Foster played in 37 of their 38 league games, only missing the final game of the season with a minor groin strain. He kept ten league clean sheets, equalling West Brom's Premier League clean sheets record, as the club finished in tenth place, their highest league finish in thirty years.[61] At the end of the season, Foster was given the supporters' player of the year and the players' player of the year awards.[62]

On 29 June 2012, Foster signed permanently with West Brom for an undisclosed fee,[62] widely reported to be £4 million.[63][64] He signed a three-year contract with an option for a further two years in the club's favour.[62] Foster continued to perform impressively in his second season with the club, keeping 7 clean sheets in 30 league games, and helping to guide West Brom to their record high premier league position of 8th for the 2012–13 season.[65] Despite missing 4 months of the following season through injury, Foster went on to win both fans player, and player's player of the year awards for the second time in three years after a series of impressive performances throughout the 2013-14 season.[66] Foster's impressive form for the club saw him called up to the 2014 England world cup squad, becoming the first West Bromwich Albion player to represent England in a world cup squad since Jeff Astle in 1970.[67]

International career[edit]

On 26 May 2006, Foster was named on the stand-by list for England's 2006 World Cup squad, because of Robert Green's injury in a "B" international against Belarus.[68] After Foster re-signed on loan for Watford, he was called up to Steve McClaren's first England squad as one of three goalkeepers for the friendly against Greece.[69] Since his first call-up but prior to his injury, Foster was named in every England squad, and made his England debut in the 1–0 defeat against Spain on 7 February 2007.[70]

After not playing for England for two years and never being called to the first team, he was finally selected by Fabio Capello after his performance at the League Cup final and was a second half substitute against Slovakia in a 4–0 victory to earn his second cap.

Inconsistent performances in Manchester United's first fixtures of the 2009–10 season, as well as bruised ribs, meant that Foster was left out of Capello's initial squad for their final two World Cup qualifiers. However, after Robert Green was sent off in the match against Ukraine on 10 October, Foster was recalled in his place for the following match against Belarus. It had been expected that David James would take Green's place in the starting line-up, but James was injured in the warm-up and Foster was given his third England cap instead. England won the match 3–0, with Foster making a one-handed save from Sergei Omelyanchuk in the 63rd minute.[71] Foster won his fourth cap against Brazil, where he played the whole game in a 1–0 loss on 14 November 2009, the friendly game was played in Qatar, with forward Nilmar scoring the only goal of the game from a header in the 47th minute.[72] He was overlooked for England's 2010 World Cup squad, Joe Hart being preferred for the third goalkeeping spot.

In May 2011, Foster announced that he would be making himself unavailable for international selection for an indefinite period. He intended to "prolong [his] club career for as long as possible" by allowing his body "a proper rest period between games" to reduce "niggling" injuries.[73] It was not until February 2013 that he made himself available for selection again.[74] In the next international break, he was called up to the England squad for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.[75] On 29 May 2013 Foster represented England in a friendly fixture against Ireland.

Foster was selected in the final 23 for England's 2014 World Cup squad, [76] and played in the 2–2 draw with Ecuador in preparation for the tournament. With England unable to advance to the last 16, he played the whole 90 minutes of the last Group game against Costa Rica, and kept a clean sheet in the 0–0 draw in Belo Horizonte.[77]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played 11 May 2014.[78][79]
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Racing Club Warwick 2000–01
Stoke City 2001–02 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2002–03 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2003–04 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2004–05 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total
Bristol City (loan) 2002–03 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tiverton Town (loan) 2003–04 16 0 0 0 16 0
Stafford Rangers (loan) 2003–04 1 0 0 0 1 0
Kidderminster Harriers (loan) 2004–05 2 0 0 0 2 0
Wrexham (loan) 2004–05 17 0 0 0 0 0 4[a] 0 21 0
Manchester United 2005–06 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2006–07 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2007–08 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2008–09 2 0 3 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 9 0
2009–10 9 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1[b] 0 13 0
Total 12 0 3 0 4 0 3 0 1 0 23 0
Watford (loan) 2005–06 44 0 1 0 0 0 3[c] 0 48 0
2006–07 29 0 3 0 1 0 33 0
Total 73 0 4 0 1 0 3 0 81 0
Birmingham City 2010–11 38 0 1 0 4 0 43 0
West Bromwich Albion (loan) 2011–12 37 0 2 0 0 0 39 0
West Bromwich Albion 2012–13 30 0 0 0 1 0 31 0
2013–14 24 0 1 0 0 0 25 0
Career total 233 0 11 0 10 0 3 0 8 0 265 0

International[edit]

England national team
Year Apps Goals
2007 1 0
2008 0 0
2009 3 0
2010 1 0
20111 0 0
20121 0 0
2013 1 0
2014 2 0
Total 8 0

Statistics accurate as of match played 24 June 2014[80]

^1 Foster was retired from international football during 2011 and 2012.

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Wrexham
Watford
Manchester United
Birmingham City

Individual[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Foster lives with his wife and two children in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire. Foster designed their house himself, with particular focus on the kitchen, having trained as a chef in Leamington Spa before he began his football career.[81]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]