When Gustavo Hamer’s 30-yard header looped over Ben Foster‘s head, the Watford goalkeeper’s first thought was “Oh s—, s—, right here we go…” Then got here the self-loathing, evaluation, acceptance and refocus. “Whilst I am diving for it, I can nonetheless bear in mind pondering ‘I must be saving this’ and I simply did not, for no matter motive, get sufficient contact on the ball, no matter it was, it was a technical error,” Foster informed ESPN. “As quickly because it occurred, I assumed oh, no, no, no.”
The method took 30 seconds, and all of it was captured by the GoPro digicam that Foster had positioned behind his aim earlier than kickoff. His Watford facet finally floor out a much-needed 3-2 win over Hamer’s Coventry Metropolis within the Championship final weekend. Afterwards, as he did the postmatch hand-shaking, he carried round his GoPro, thanking his teammates for bailing him out. As Foster arrived again within the altering room, he was greeted by teammate Will Hughes. “He [Hughes] was standing there, simply type of me with the mischievous face of like, that is gonna look unbelievable on the YouTube channel!”
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When soccer stopped again in March, Foster, 37, used his time and vitality to merge his soccer profession and keenness for biking together with his new YouTube channel, “The Biking GK,” which hints at a few of his plans for all times after soccer. Amid the gloom of one other lockdown within the UK, Foster and his YouTube channel supply an antidote. In a sport the place so usually personalities are hidden, he breaks the norm, granting us an perception right into a profession well-lived, but in addition a person you’d like to spend a day within the pub with.
“I really like soccer, do not get me improper. I adore it,” Foster says. “I really like the Saturday afternoon; the adrenaline buzz I get from it’s unbelievable. However for the remainder of it, I may take it or go away it — genuinely take it or go away the remainder of it, the crap that comes with it — the movie star, the celebrity, all that form of stuff. It does not matter to me in any respect.”
As we chat over Zoom, Foster reels off the issues that get him enthusiastic and ignite his beaming smile: beers, his household, meals, the fun of taking his new Tarmac SL7 bike out for a trip for the primary time (“It is like going to see your new child that is simply been born”), the Giro d’Italia and his YouTube channel. Oh, and saving penalties, as he did in a single episode towards Blackburn Rovers‘ Adam Armstrong.
Foster’s channel presents viewers a singular perception into life on and off the sphere as a goalkeeper. The GoPro he nestles behind him in aim presents a possibility to snoop on all the things that goes on: a private spotlight was one Luton participant shouting at one other ‘You egocentric piece of s—‘ after he scooped a shot effectively over the bar, as a substitute of passing to a teammate in a greater place. Then there are the moments in one other episode the place Foster lambasts his defence for permitting a shot on aim or guiding one in every of their full-backs to pressure the Coventry attacker on to his weaker proper foot. It is unbelievable entry — the kind all of us pine for with each new fly-on-the-wall documentary launched on streaming media.
Watching “The Biking GK” additionally permits you to faucet into Foster’s infectious enthusiasm; in some way, after our chat, his joie de vivre led me to buy just a few bottles of the pink wine he advisable — a Tempranillo known as The Guv’nor — and ponder whether I can get my well-insulated body on one in every of these light-weight bikes blessed with expertise and precision that’d make NASA blush.
Foster is now within the twilight of a profession that is seen him play for Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham Metropolis and his present facet Watford, whereas successful eight England caps. We discuss via just a few highlights — the time he saved a Steven Gerrard penalty in entrance of The Kop, his England debut, enjoying beneath Sir Alex Ferguson — then he laughs as he remembers when opposition goalkeeper Paul Robinson lobbed him from 80 yards. However Foster is anchored within the current and never outlined by the game.
By the use of a mission assertion, he says: “My identify is Ben Foster: I am a husband, I’ve received two beautiful youngsters, I really like biking, I play soccer for a residing. That is how I stay my life. It’s worthwhile to study to form of try to get somewhat little bit of a partition in between who you’re and what you do for a residing as effectively.
“I’ve discovered to not likely give a crap about what anybody else thinks, and all of the crap that comes with soccer you could simply study to let it go as a result of it does not matter. For a goalkeeper particularly, you must say keep on that form of even keel, if that is sensible.”
He sees himself as a lot as a biking obsessive as he does a footballer, which fashioned the genesis behind this new YouTube channel that takes you into the center of life at Watford — together with a number of Hughes’ vibrant language. “It does not matter what Hughes is doing, he is swearing, so so long as we type of blur his mouth and bleep his like swear phrases out, we’re wonderful. He loves it, actually, he is a sneaky one. He is one in every of them who acts like, provides it the massive’un and he is like, ‘I am by no means approaching, I am by no means speaking, blah, blah, blah.’ After which as quickly as I’ve received the digicam up, he runs up behind and he is getting on and leaping in and swearing and all this sort of stuff.”
There have been 11 episodes revealed thus far: viewers have discovered that Foster is uber-competitive on a Wattbike, he adores tomato ketchup, (once more) Hughes swears loads, the unsung heroes at Watford just like the equipment man and the bus driver are the lifeblood of the membership, and Foster judges a lodge on whether or not there is a USB connector by the mattress or not (he is fast to reward their chosen staff lodge for house video games on their latest refurbishment and new USB connectors — “candy as a nut, mate!”).
Biking is as a lot Foster’s pastime as it’s his refuge. The 2 hours he spends day by day on the bike supply him an opportunity to clear his head, get the endorphins pumping and allow him to “eat and drink what I would like” when he will get again house. He has a glass of wine off digicam as we discuss and laughs as he talks about how rapidly he consumed a bag of crisps earlier within the day, having already burnt 2,000 energy. His dream vacation is 4 or 5 days within the mountains with mates on bikes, then a day by the pool.
However this ardour was initially triggered by necessity. He has suffered three ACL accidents in his 19-year profession, and the bike allowed him to regain health whereas not placing stress on his surgically repaired knees. It additionally stored his psychological well being in test throughout the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown.
“It was the perfect type of drug for me ever — I needed to do it on daily basis, whether or not it could be on the watt bike, or I might get out on my bike, and I might exit for an hour, two hours, no matter it could be. My health ranges went loopy excessive as a result of I used to be at house and I used to be anxious I put weight on, however as a result of I have been nailing the bike so arduous, like I used to be as match as I might ever been like mentally although, I believe that is an enormous factor for me mentally.”
And also you see all this via “The Biking GK.” Whereas YouTube is providing him an outlet and a post-football enterprise enterprise, he is additionally conscious of how brutal social media may be for these discovering their toes within the early levels of their careers. “I’ve seen them once we get in at full-time, and the very first thing they’re doing is checking what some random bloke in his bed room has mentioned about him they usually take it in as effectively. Their response just isn’t like ‘what a d—head,’ they absolutely take it in, and it actually impacts them. It is a disgrace, actually, as a result of the one folks it’s best to actually take heed to are the coaches, your family members, your dad and mom, folks that basically matter.”
In order that’s why he tries to not take himself, or the rollercoaster life as a goalkeeper, too severely. However he is additionally conscious of his footballing mortality. He has performed 480 skilled video games thus far; his physique reminds him of it on Sunday mornings. “I peel myself off the bed.. like all the things feels a lot stiffer and ‘oh God, I am unable to await this to not harm anymore.'”
Foster has two years left on his Watford contract and would dearly love the following, and doubtlessly last, 12 months to be again within the Premier League. Biking helps him hold retirement at bay, however he by no means needs to be a No. 2 goalkeeper. It is not in his nature. “You by no means know with soccer; I do not suppose you possibly can ever say by no means. We’ll simply gauge it at that second in time and see how we really feel.”
When the time comes to hold up his gloves, he’ll keep within the recreation in some capability (“perhaps I am going to do media or commentating or this or that, no matter”), however he’s already dreaming up adventures on his bike.
“There’s a great deal of bucket listing issues I wish to do,” he says. “There’s like issues known as the Hoate Route or L’Etape du Tour the place you do just like the seven hardest levels of the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia or no matter. And you will do them every day. However you are not doing them in a race, it is similar to an enormous outdated form of group of individuals having a great time. There might be a gaggle who’ll race it, however I will be in a gaggle with those who simply wish to have enjoyable and then you definitely’re within the bar and have one other few drinks. You do the identical factor the following day. It is such a great social. Mate, I actually… I am unable to wait to do it.”
Then there are initiatives nearer to house, like the brand new home he is constructing on a 30-acre farm he lives on in Warwickshire. He is received new neighbours too, belonging to the woman who owns the farm. “She has received just like the maddest, maddest animals. She’s received 4 llamas. She’s received three ostriches, who simply had infants that are known as rheas. She’s received six or seven ostriches now. She’s received a Dobermans, like a guard canine who’s beautiful, sensible, depraved guard canines as effectively.
“There’s two large lakes actually exterior the entrance door. There’s a few hundred Canadian geese, she’s received friggin’ herons in every single place. There’s carp within the lake — you are speaking like a 3, four- or five-pound carp. She’s received two peacocks as effectively, only for good measure, they usually’ve simply had infants as effectively.”
Then there are the company he’d like to get on his present. “Dream visitor smart could be… he is simply gained the Giro, Tao Geoghegan Hart. We’re form of like web buddies. He is an enormous soccer and Arsenal fan.”
And maybe new targets for his GoPro. “I might like to put one in Manchester Metropolis keeper Ederson‘s aim. I’ve seen him Cruyff flip any individual two yards out from his personal aim and I am pondering ‘you do not give a s— mate.’ It is depraved. And that form of mentality although, is price its weight in gold. He is class. From the previous, I believe additionally simply to listen to Peter Schmeichel’s vocals and listen to him coming after folks, and roasting folks such as you would not consider could be superb.”
After which it’s going to be off to search out his subsequent obsession. “I’m world class at discovering a pastime. I believe I get it from my dad somewhat bit as a result of he is a little bit of a collector of issues. He is at all times collected Star Wars memorabilia; he is received a lot stuff at house, it is a joke — like a few of them actual old-school little collectible figurines nonetheless of their containers and all that form of stuff. I get the form of amassing gene from him. I simply adore it. I do not suppose it is a unhealthy approach to be, to be truthful.”
However for now, it is about getting Watford again into the Premier League and loving that buzz of the matchday, whereas doing his greatest to seize life as knowledgeable footballer — and lover of two wheels — on digicam.
“With soccer you possibly can by no means ever get too excessive, by no means get too carried away,” Foster says. “After which on the opposite facet, you possibly can’t get too down and too low as a result of then you definitely’ll begin occupied with it and worrying about it an excessive amount of.
“Once we’re on digicam filming away, I simply attempt to present folks know that is how I cope with soccer. And I’ve discovered one of the simplest ways I can cope with all of it, is how I’m now. This YouTube stuff has opened so many extra doorways … however persons are actually watching it! Even like for the biking movies, I am getting 100,000 views. That is superb. It is working. I adore it.”