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Former England goalkeeper Ben Foster saves last-minute penalty to secure win for Wrexham

Former England goalkeeper Ben Foster, at the age of 40, saved a last-minute penalty for Wrexham in their National League title showdown against Notts County, which was a career-first for him. Wrexham were leading 3-2 when Foster saved Cedwyn Scott’s penalty to ensure a win, less than three weeks after he came out of retirement to rejoin the club he first played for in 2005.

“It was well documented, I was very happily retired, I was having a lovely time playing some serious golf, got my handicap right down and then Wrexham came knocking and honestly there was probably no other club that I would have come out of retirement to do it for,” he told BBC Sport Wales. “I do owe a lot to Wrexham you know, they gave me the springboard to really start my career. So I do owe them a lot and I wanted to come and help out and I didn’t want it to be like a circus and all that you know. I wanted to come and I wanted to play some proper football and take it seriously – I’m very competitive anyway.”

Foster was a youngster at Stoke City when he played for Wrexham on loan 18 years ago and was spotted by then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. He joined United in 2005 and spent five years at Old Trafford – although that spell included two seasons on loan at Watford – and played 23 games for the Red Devils, twice helping the club win the League Cup.

Foster moved to Birmingham for a two-year spell in 2010, winning the League Cup again in his first season before spending the second on loan at West Brom, who then signed him in the summer of 2012. He spent six campaigns at The Hawthorns before rejoining Watford in 2018 and made the most recent of 519 senior career appearances in the club’s final home game in the Premier League last season.

Despite such a lengthy top-flight career, Foster says Wrexham’s “massive” win over County “was just one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in”. “Honestly, that was just back and forth and back and forth and 1-0 down at halftime, then 2-1 up and I’m thinking ‘come on, just see it out now boys, we’ve got 20 minutes to go, see it out’ and they score straightaway,” he said.

“And it’s a bit nervy; we get the goal again and then managed to hold on, you know, the penalty – that feeling of saving that penalty. I’m 40 years old and I got cramp in my calf when I made the save… but it was a special moment.”

The win meant Wrexham seized the initiative as they target a return to the Football League after dropping out in 2008. However, Foster is mindful of Wrexham’s other Easter result – a 3-1 defeat at Halifax Town – that dented their automatic promotion hopes.

“You can’t take anything for granted, you really can’t,” said Foster. “You see the performance that we put in last week at Halifax. I was gutted for the fans so badly, you know, four-and-a half-hours the fans travelled away to Halifax to watch us, it was a lovely day. Good Friday and you’re thinking ‘come on lads let’s put a real performance on today’ and we were so poor, we were so bad.”

While Foster basked in the win over County, he also admitted to some skepticism over Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney before witnessing first-hand their impact on the club and the community behind it. “Now you can feel it. That’s the difference… I was probably