Making good progress

Published : Jan 10, 2015 00:00 IST

Born in Hexham, Northumberland, in March 1988, Forster was a late developer. He also enjoyed playing rugby union and cricket and did not play football, as a goalkeeper, until he was 13 years old. By Alex Taylor.

Giving up European football was one of the downsides to Fraser Forster’s decision to leave Celtic but it may not be an issue if Southampton can continue their impressive start to the season.

The goalkeeper opted to make the long move south and leave the Scottish champions when the option to compete in the English Premier League was presented to him last summer.

This move may boost his claims for an England place, but, few would forecast Forster would again be eyeing the possibility of featuring in the Champions League so soon.

But Fraser Forster is never afraid to make whatever moves that are necessary to progress in his career.

Born in Hexham, Northumberland, in March 1988, Forster was a late developer. He also enjoyed playing rugby union and cricket and did not play football, as a goalkeeper, until he was 13 years old.

He played youth football for Wallsend Boys Club, where Michael Carrick, Steve Bruce and Alan Shearer also had their stint. He then went to Newcastle United’s academy in 2005.

He became professional with the club a year later, at the beginning of the 2007/8 season. At the age of 19, he was the Magpies’ third-choice goalkeeper.

When Tim Krul returned for the next campaign, Forster was loaned out to Stockport County in League One and made his professional debut in a 1-0 loss to Bury in the Football League Trophy in October 2008.

During his short spell at Stockport he made six appearances, keeping three clean sheets, before being made to sit on the Newcastle bench for the remainder of the season.

Forster was again loaned out the following season, this time to Bristol Rovers, also of League One, where he made just four appearances, keeping two clean sheets.

Rovers manager Paul Trollope wanted to extend the loan of the young stopper but Norwich made a counter offer and Forster ventured to Carrow Road to join up with manager Paul Lambert.

The remainder of the 2009/10 season proved to be a hugely successful one for both the club and the player, with Forster keeping 20 clean sheets in 42 appearances in all competitions as the Canaries won the League One title.

His success in Norfolk drew the attention of Celtic boss Neil Lennon, who signed Forster on a season-long loan in August 2010 from Newcastle. More silverware came Forster’s way as he kept a clean sheet in the Scottish Cup final with Celtic winning 3-0 over Motherwell at Hampden Park.

Despite featuring in Newcastle’s pre-season games in the summer of 2011, Forster re-joined Celtic on loan, winning his first SPL title that season.

In the summer of 2012 it was announced that Celtic had signed Forster on a permanent basis for around GBP2 million and it proved a smart investment, with Forster helping his team to win another two SPL titles and another Scottish Cup at Celtic Park.

In November 2013, Forster’s good work was recognised by his country when he won his first cap for England in a friendly against Chile at Wembley.

The South Americans were comfortable 2-0 winners but Forster had the consolation of becoming only the second ever Celtic player to play for England after Alan Thompson.

Forster continued to be part of the England squad, although he remained an understudy to number one choice Joe Hart. He was part of the 2014 World Cup team in Brazil, but did not feature in any of England’s three matches as they crashed out in the group stage.

A busy summer continued when Southampton paid a reported GBP10 million to Celtic for Forster in August as part of a necessary spending spree following the departures of several key players.

It was a tough decision for Forster to leave the Bhoys and look to further his career in the English top flight, but one which so far looks vindicated following Southampton’s superb start.

“I had a great time at Celtic and will be forever grateful for what they did for me. They gave me a chance and really believed in me,” he said.

“Celtic gave me the opportunity to play Champions League football and European football. It was something really special.

“It was just a case of in the summer I thought it was time to move on for a new challenge. We have had a great start, which is a real credit to the manager and everyone connected with Southampton.”

Forster has played a key role in that early-season form and could be back on the European stage quicker than expected. Leah Totton (winner of BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ in 2013) is Forster’s current girlfriend.

FACTFILEName: Fraser ForsterPosition: GoalkeeperClub: SouthamptonD.O.B: 17/3/1988International appearances: 3International goals: 0

Moment to remember: Forster was labelled `La Gran Muralla' (The Great Wall) by the Spanish press following his unbelievable performance for Celtic against Barcelona in the Champions League in November 2012.

Moment to forget: Kicking the ball straight to Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford whilst at Norwich, resulting in a 90th-minute winner for the Yorkshire side.

© PA Sport

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