Former Manchester United, Stoke, West Brom, Watford and England goalkeeper Ben Foster has revived his career at the age of 39 to join National League leaders Wrexham.
Foster, who has recently developed a career outside football as a YouTuber and podcaster, has been without a club since his Watford contract ended last summer.
His deal with Wrexham, for whom he played 21 games on loan from first professional club Stoke 18 years ago, is a short-term contract until the end of the season.
The north Wales club, co-owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and the subject of Welcome to Wrexham on Disney+, are determined to return to the English Football League for the first time in 15 years by securing promotion from the National League this season.
“It’s changed a lot since I was last here, but it’s nice to be back and it’s nice to be back as a player too. It will be interesting to see how my body feels after training today! I’m looking forward to getting started,” Foster told Wrexham’s official website.
“The first time I was here, it was genuinely the springboard to the rest of my career – on the back of the loan move, playing in the LDV Vans Trophy Final at the Millennium Stadium, I got my move to Manchester United at the start of the next season. It was absolutely bonkers!
“If you’d told me 18 years ago that I’d have gone on to have the career that I have had, I probably wouldn’t have believed you to be honest so I do owe a lot to Wrexham.”
An injury to goalkeeper Rob Lainton, who featured prominently during season one of Welcome to Wrexham, has left manager Phil Parkinson short on options between the sticks. Fellow goalkeeper Christian Dibble, who also had a significant role in the series, left the Racecourse Ground in January.
Lainton started the season with a wrist injury and, having recovered but spending three months as a back-up, only recently wrestled his starting place back from Mark Howard.
36-year-old Howard, who started his career at Arsenal, then replaced Lainton at half-time of the recent win over Bromley and will be Foster’s biggest competition for a place in the team.
Wrexham last played in the EFL in 2008 when they were relegated from League Two and have been trying to get back there ever since. Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the historic but downtrodden club in 2020 and have invested heavily to achieve that goal.
A few months after the takeover, Wrexham finished eighth in the National League, the fifth tier of English football, just two points outside the promotion play-offs.
They improved massively to come second in 2021/22 but finished six points adrift of Stockport County, who secured automatic promotion to the EFL. Handed a second chance in the play-offs, Wrexham fell at the first hurdle when they lost their semi-final to Grimsby in extra-time.
So far in 2022/23, Wrexham lead the National League by three points ahead of Notts County and have a game in hand. Both teams are more than 20 points clear of third place but only one will get automatic promotion, while the other will have to settle for the play-offs.
Wrexham hold the advantage and could all but seal things when they host Notts County on 10 April.