Big Ben, keeping clean sheets like clockwork…
Over the international break, we’re bringing you the countdown on Albion’s 10 greatest post-war goalkeepers. To qualify, they’ve kept 25 clean sheets in the league and from there, we’ve worked out their clean sheets to games percentage. Eyes down for a full house…
6. Ben Foster
135 games, 37 clean sheets, 27.41%
(To the end of the 2015/16 season)
Just where Ben Foster is going to end up in the pantheon of Albion goalkeepers is anyone’s guess, because there’s no sign of him letting anyone take the number one jersey off him any time soon.
Fitness permitting, there’s no reason why, in his present form, he shouldn’t sail past 300, maybe 400, games for the club and establish himself as perhaps even our greatest ever goalkeeper.
Certainly Roy Hodgson was very, very clear that we should bring Ben in from Birmingham City when they were relegated in 2011, replacing another England goalkeeper, the departing Scott Carson, between the sticks.
From the outset, Ben added a calm, confidence to the Albion backline. Measured in his work and organisation, dominating with his physical presence, spectacular in the agile nature of his saves, from day one, Ben Foster looked every inch the goalkeeper Albion needed to take another step forward and he has been as influential as anyone in the on-going work of establishing the Throstles as Premier League perennials over the last few years.
Prior to returning to his native midlands, Ben had had a pretty varied career, the highlights being the move to Manchester United that ultimately brought him two League Cup wins, winning promotion via the play-offs while on loan at Watford and then collecting a third League Cup medal with Blues.
Yet while the silver cupboard has yet to be added to in the last five years – sort that out next May will you Ben? – it’s in his stint at The Hawthorns that Foster’s name has really been made, for he has been a beacon of consistency with the Baggies, earning an England recall that took him to the 2014 World Cup and a game against Costa Rica – another clean sheet, naturally.
When people reflect back on Foster’s Albion career, inevitably it’s games like the recent one at home to Spurs that people will recall, days when he has produced one super save after another.
But his contribution to the Albion has been much more than that. His greatest gift to the club is his ability to radiate calm and control from his 18 yard box – and, like all great goalkeepers, that rectangle of grass is his, nobody else’s. With Ben Foster in goal, whatever the opposition, you always fancy our chances of coming away from the game with something because of his ability to make match winning saves.
Knowing that, there’s never any need for panic and having that reassurance at the exalted level at which we play these days is a priceless commodity. Roy Hodgson knew his stuff alright.
6. Ben Foster
7. Alan Miller
8. Jim Sanders
9. Ray Potter
10. Norman Heath