STAFF and students at North Leamington School are “unbelievably proud” after ex-pupil Ben Foster was selected to be part of England’s World Cup squad.
The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper said he was honoured to be in manager Roy Hodgson’s 23 man squad heading for the finals in Brazil next month.
The 31-year-old dropped in at his old school, which he attended from 1995 to 1999, on Friday (May 9) to meet students and even show his shot stopping skills during a penalty shoot out.
Rob Morey, his former PE teacher and now Head of Sixth Form, said: “The whole school is unbelievably proud of Ben.
“It was great that he found time between finishing off the Premier League season and jetting off to join up with the England World Cup squad, to come back and visit the students.
“He spent two hours talking to students, posing for photographs and signing autographs, as well as answering questions from how he will find out if he is in the World Cup squad to the type of training he does and his dietary requirements.
“Ben is a real role model, someone who although a Premiership football star, is very grounded and someone the students can easy relate and look up to.
“Talking about how he made it from playing locally for Central Ajax and Racing Club Warwick proves that with hard work and no lack of talent it is possible for local youngsters to achieve great things in football.”
Ben even told Rob on leaving that if there was anything he could do in future for the school they just had to ask – following it up later with a text to say he was serious in his offer.
The father-of-two, who lives near Henley-in-Arden, is expected to be on the bench in Brazil but said he was happy to play second fiddle to current first choice keeper Joe Hart.
“I think Joe Hart should be No 1,” said Ben. “He is a fantastic goalkeeper and we are lucky to have someone like him.
“For me it is going to be a real honour to be involved in a World Cup squad. I have never been involved in a major tournament. If I get the call I am really going to be looking forward to it.”
Ben’s international career, which started when he made his debut against Spain in 2007, looked over when he retired from international football during the Fabio Capello era.
But he changed his mind a year ago and was welcomed back by Hodgson, his former manager at West Brom, and now looks set to add to his six appearances to date in an England shirt.
Talking about his original decision to retire, he said: “At the time I was going through a lot of injuries – knee trouble, back trouble. I’d just had kids as well, so to be away from home for two weeks at a time was a big miss for me.
“It was something I needed to do and something I stand by even today.”
Leamington born and bred Ben briefly trained as a chef on leaving school, before his professional football career began when he was snapped up by Stoke from Racing Club Warwick in 2001. He spent time on loan with various clubs before a high profile move to Manchester United. He left Old Trafford for Birmingham City in a £6 million deal, and after the Blues were relegated, and joined West Brom, and this year he was voted the club’s players’ and supporters’ player of the season.