Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster has spoken at length about his career, his development as a young footballer and why he decided to call time on his England career. The 37-year-old appeared on the BBC’s That Peter Crouch Podcast to speak about his journey from non-league to the Premier League and how he is filling his time, with football currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Hornets shot-stopper said he was currently spending a lot of time quizzing with his Watford team-mates .
Ben Foster said “I’m booked out, my schedule for quizzes this week is incredible. I’ve got one tomorrow, but I’m nervous because I’ve got to come up with my own questions. They’ve got to be decent questions. If somebody has a bad question round or something, you’re getting pelters off the lads. It’s me, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Cathcart, Dawson. Tom’s a very clever lad. Danny Welbeck’s a very clever lad. You wouldn’t have thought it just by looking at them. I love cooking mainly because you get a bit of peace and quiet in the kitchen,” he said. “You’ve got the missus and kids running riot and doing all their stuff, but when you’re in the kitchen, you don’t want people running round your feet and stuff so you can just have a bit of peace and quiet. The last few weeks have been golden with the weather so I’ve been out in the garden barbecuing every day. I left school at 16, I was a chef for two years at Cafe Rouge in Leamington Spa, being a chef. If anybody’s a chef out there they’ll tell you it’s super long hours, you’re talking 50, 60, 70 hour weeks sometimes, it’s ridiculous hours,” he said. I was just playing for a local non-league team called Racing Club Warwick – they were in the Dr Martins league back in the day. One night we had a game and there was a crash on the motorway, so a scout that worked for Stoke, he was driving home, he had to go on some mad A-roads to get home to avoid the motorway, so anyway he came and watched the game and saw me playing and that was it. He scouted me, signed me to Stoke. I remember going out on loan to Wrexham and it was at Wrexham that it kicked off from there. We had Darren Ferguson, obviously Alex Ferguson’s son. I remember we played in the LDV Vans final and I remember seeing Alex Ferguson’s face on the telly at the Millennium Stadium and I did well that game, it was a couple of weeks later, Darren Ferguson grabbed me and he goes, ‘My dad’s keeping tabs on you now so just keep going the way you’re going and Man United might want to buy you’ and I was like, ‘What? You can’t tell me that now!’ I was s****** myself. I still had half a dozen games left to go, imagine just dealing with that when you’re 21 or 22 and you haven’t done anything with your career. Luckily it all worked out, I did alright until the end of the season and thankfully they came and bought me in the summer for about a million quid or something.”
Foster went on to play internationally for England, but called time on that after a run-in with then manager Fabio Capello. He claims the Italian showed him a lack of respect.
Ben Foster said ” I just didn’t feel like Capello showed me any respect whatsoever. I had just had my second boy, I was actually on international duty, my wife was pregnant up north in Manchester and rang me in the morning and said her waters had broke, and I remember going to see Fabio and saying ‘I think my wife’s in labour’ and he said ‘we’ve got training in half an hour’. I managed to persuade him to let me get off, but within two or three hours of my son being born, he was on the phone saying ‘I need you back down here’, I think it was only a friendly as well, he said I’d play the second half because I was only second choice goalie at the time, so it would be worth it. I had to say to my wife ‘I think I’ll play the second half, so probably worth going’ and I got there, didn’t even come on for one minute. That goes beyond football for me, that’s just not on. That was it, game over. I remember getting back to Birmingham where I was at the time and I got the club to put a statement out saying that was me for a while, the kids had been born, I was missing being at home with them. Eventually I did return for a few years under Roy Hodgson. As a bloke he’s world class. He gave me a call when he got the England job and asked if I’d be interested in coming back, even if I wasn’t playing, even if I was third choice, I knew I was respected.”
A lack of respect is something Foster has had to get used to as a goalkeeper, as he claimed that even in reserve games with small crowds, there is always at least one person in the crowd who will persistently shout at the man between the sticks. However, one incident from this season away at Wolverhampton Wanderers stuck in Foster’s mind as a particularly strong example.
Ben Foster said “I used to play at West Brom, I was there for a long time. West Brom and Wolves, that’s their big derby, that’s their big rival. We’re playing away at Wolves, we end up losing 2-0 which I was absolutely gutted about, but I knew I was going to get dog’s abuse from the Wolves fans. I was in front of their main stand for the second half, they didn’t sing about the game, they didn’t sing about Wolves, they didn’t sing about other than Foster is a ****. That’s all they sang, for the whole of the second half. 15, 20 odd thousand people, relentlessly. You could even see it in their faces, the snarl and stuff like that, I’m still just smiling thinking ‘it’s only a game of football, you don’t have to get that serious about it’.”
Cooking was how Foster’s professional life began after he left school. The goalkeeper first worked as a chef in Cafe Rouge in Leamington Spa, before a stroke of luck sent him on his way to Manchester United.
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