Much has been said and written about high-flying National League side Wrexham over the past couple of years, given that they are now under the ownership of Hollywood royalty in the form of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
And a lot has been said and written about the decision taken by former England goalkeeper Ben Foster to come out of retirement and rejoin Wrexham for a second spell at the club at the age of 39.
So what convinced the shot-stopper, who played eight times for England, to pull the gloves back on again and help Wrexham in their quest to return to the Football League?
Was it a football-based decision, or was there more to it? It merits a closer look.
Why Did Wrexham Sign Ben Foster?
Wrexham ostensibly signed Ben Foster because their current first-choice goalkeeper, Rob Lainton, sustained a knee ligament injury in a recent match and could miss the rest of the season.
However, the club had three other ‘keeping options waiting in the wings in the form of Mark Howard, Kai Calderbank-Park and Rory Watson, which perhaps makes the decision to reach out to the retired Foster difficult to explain.
The Wrexham manager, Phil Parkinson, has stated that after Lainton’s injury it was important that the club “had all bases covered going into the last part of the season”.
It’s perhaps difficult to argue with that assertion, as the Welsh club are only three points clear of Notts County at the top of the table as they battle for a lucrative promotion to League Two.
Why Did Ben Foster Retire?
Ben Foster retired in October 2022 as a free agent after being released by Watford that summer and after turning down an offer to become the back-up goalkeeper at Newcastle United.
He said on his podcast, The Cycling Goalkeeper, that he was tempted to join what he sees as the “richest club in the world”, but turned it down as he thought it would be too disruptive to his family set-up in the Midlands of England.
On the podcast in which he announced his retirement, he revealed that his family situation, coupled with his online media work and other commitments, meant he decided against the move, and instead opted to retire from professional football.
Why Did Ben Foster Want to Join Wrexham?
According to Foster himself, when he received the call about Wrexham’s interest his interest was piqued having played for the club before, in 2005. “That was the catalyst for my career,” he said. “Hopefully I can sign, get the job done and get us over the line.”
On his own podcast, Foster said that he had been tagged by Wrexham fans in online videos and tweets, asking him to come back to the club.
“My initial reaction was yes. They are top of the league and desperate to get back to the Football League. They have a lot of backing, and the budget is really good thanks to the owners.”
However, Foster admitted that the move comes with an opportunity for his online content business, as Wrexham’s progress is famously being followed by a documentary team, and interest in America is huge thanks to the Reynolds and McElhenney ownership.
Foster admitted that he hoped to revive his online matchday vlogs and once again place a GoPro in the goalnet to provide a unique view of the match for his subscribers.
He said “[Business-wise] this is the best club in the world to join just now…But first and foremost, it’s about what happens on the pitch”.
How Much Does Ben Foster Earn at Wrexham?
According to Foster himself, he is going to be earning “peanuts” while playing for Wrexham until the end of the season, despite the club being well known for offering the highest wages in the National League.
He told his Fozcast podcast that “negotiations took five minutes… I am literally playing for peanuts… I asked to be paid for travel and a hotel if needed. To be honest, I don’t need much [money]”.
Wrexham have been splashing the cash since the Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over, and have persuaded players to leave Football League clubs to drop down the pyramid by offering wages well above average for the National League.
Ben Foster Wrexham Salary
It is difficult to gauge his salary, as the numbers are not in the public domain, but even if Foster was Wrexham’s top earner, he would “only” be earning an estimated £4500 a week, equatable to £234,000 a year.
However, he has stated publicly that he is playing for “peanuts” at Wrexham – although everything is relative, as his final contract at Watford was worth an estimated £30,000 a week, or over £1.5 million a year.
Why is Ben Foster Called “The Cycling GK”?
Ben Foster is called “The Cycling Goalkeeper” because he is an ardent cyclist who regularly posts cycling videos to his YouTube channel, which is called The Cycling GK.
The channel has become hugely successful, with over 1.2 million subscribers and 100 million views. Foster also has an exclusive Spotify podcast called the Fozcast.
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