People’s GOALKEEPER Ben Foster has announced his retirement from football for the SECOND time.
The 40-year-old former England and Manchester United goalkeeper enjoyed a renaissance at Wrexham, forging a close relationship with club owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob Mcelhenney.
He helped the Red Dragons gain promotion to League Two last season before announcing he was hanging up his gloves.
Foster started the season number 1 but admittedly struggled as the Welsh club conceded 13 goals in their first four games, including a 5-5 draw with Swindon at the weekend.
Announcing his decision to quit, he admitted: “The honest truth is that my performances this season have not reached the level that I’m asking of myself and I think now is the right time to be in to retire.”
“When I made this decision, I not only wanted the best, but also the best for the club. The decision now gives the club every opportunity to consider their options before the window closes. Wrexham will always hold a special place in my heart.”
He will be missed. Wrexham co-chairman Ryan Reynolds previously wrote to X: “He created memories that I will never let go of for the rest of my life. i love this guy Thanks for everything Ben.”
Outside of the game, Foster’s personality shines.
On his YouTube channel “Cycling GK” he was able to comment on the game, share entertaining video comments and much more.
It has attracted almost 1.5 million subscribers who love its irreverent take on the game.
It basically seemed like Foster was a pensioner when he left Watford in 2022 at the age of 39.
He played for Manchester United, was a hero for Watford and won eight caps for England.
It could have been more had he not put his international career on hold after falling out with Fabio Capello, who reluctantly let him leave training camp when his wife Kate went into labour.
Even an offer from Newcastle United in 2022 to switch as Nick Pope’s backup goalkeeper was quickly turned down as Foster looked forward to some time off with his family and his media commitments.
However, Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob Mcelhenney proved to be a bigger draw than the Premier League.
Foster heeded an SOS call when the then National League club faced a goalkeeping crisis and returned to the Welsh club 17 years after a loan in 2005.
Foster said: “I’m over the moon. I was in the club for an hour this morning and it seems like a really nice place. Everyone is down to earth and the manager top notch.
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“A lot has changed since I was last here, but it’s nice to be back and it’s nice to be back as a player too. It will be interesting to see how my body feels after training today! I look forward to getting started.
“When I first came here it really was the stepping stone for the rest of my career – after moving on loan while playing in the LDV Vans Trophy final at the Millennium Stadium, my move to Manchester United was an option right from the start of the next season. It was absolutely amazing!
“If you’d told me 18 years ago that I’d had the career I’ve had, I honestly probably wouldn’t have believed you, so I owe a lot to Wrexham.”
Foster was given a short-term contract until the end of last season, in which he played eight times.
In that short time he has become a fan and owner favorite.
Wrexham was promoted to the EFL, which is what we all know now and makes for the perfect Hollywood ending to the story (although there’s certainly more to come).
But it was during this time that Foster and co-chairman Reynolds had a marked affair.
After the club sealed promotion, the Deadpool star interrupted Foster’s press conference to ask about his shirt.
In return, Foster received a glove worn by the Canadian actor’s superhero character.
Speaking on his Fozcast podcast, Foster revealed: “This is amazing right, Ryan Reynolds texted me on the day of… [Boreham Wood] Play to say, “Can I have your shirt?
“I said ‘yeah cool’ and he said ‘cool because I have something for you too’.”
“I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ Anyway, he texted me yesterday and said, “I forgot to tell you what it is.”
“He says, ‘I was looking through my Deadpool memorabilia the other day and I found the original gloves that I wore in the movie.'”
Reynolds gave one of the gloves to Jay Fear, a Wrexham fan with terminal cancer, before the game against Boreham Wood.
The other ended up in the Foster household.
Reynolds also had another surprise in store for the goalie.
In a comment reply, Reynolds wrote, “I’m giving you the Deadpool underwear as a gift too. Which, to be fair, smells better than the shirt you gave me.”
In 2020, Foster launched his own YouTube channel, The Cycling GK.
His plan was to provide a unique insight into his life as a professional footballer and show his cycling adventures.
It included matchday vlogs, GoPro footage of his games and football challenges like Foster’s game against Arsenal Women.
Of course, his old Mucka Reynolds made a few appearances in some of the clips.
It seemed like that, along with his podcast, mapped out his future.
But the temptation to don Wrexham’s number 1 second division shirt was too great and he signed a lead man contract extension in the summer.
His superiors even agreed to his demands for more free time.
I keep talking the fellas podcast, Foster said, “You’d have to be basically flexible with me about days off.”
“Like I said, I live a few hours from Wrexham.
“So when I drive to training it’s two hours and then I train and then to get home you have to drive through Birmingham via the M6, sometimes it’s three hours.”
“In the six weeks I was there the club were so good with me. You were so flexible. They gave me extra days off, so to speak.”
“We played on a Saturday, they gave me Sunday and Monday off.”
“I would train on Tuesday, we would all have a day off on Wednesday anyway. Actually, I would only train for three days.”
But now Foster feels he must go.
After conceding five goals against Swindon Town, he has done so for the second time in four games this season and retired with dignity.
Manager Phil Parkinson said: “Ben was the exemplary professional at Wrexham and did everything we asked of him.”
“It takes a big human being to make the decision that he has and someone who really understands this football club and the timing of his decision.”
“I’m sure I speak for everyone when I thank him for his contribution, which went well beyond that one great penalty against Notts County and helped us get promoted last season. Wrexham AFC was a better place when Ben Foster was at the club.”
For now, the focus will be on his burgeoning YouTube career. Fitting for a great character and a gorgeous guy.