Season 3 Episode 36

Ben Foster

Ben Foster has been called "the nicest man in football." Now, he's using social media to bring fans closer than ever to life as a footballer.
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Episode Notes

Ben Foster has an impressive CV. He’s won trophies, played for England at a World Cup and has recently tasted success in helping AFC Wrexham gain promotion back into the Football League.

But there’s more to him than football and goalkeeping. Full of charisma and sometimes labelled “the nicest man in football”, he’s fully embraced modern social media to bring the fans closer than ever to football.


  1. Charisma: a special magnetic charm or appeal
    ”Ben Foster is full of charisma, making him a natural in front of the camera.”

  2. Easygoing: relaxed and not easily upset or worried
    ”Ben Foster has an easygoing personality.”

  3. Enthusiasm: a feeling of energetic interest in a particular subject or activity
    ”Ryan Reynolds’ enthusiasm for Wrexham and the town have won over the club’s fans.”


Tommy - 00:00:
Ben Foster has an impressive CV. He's won trophies, played for England at a World Cup, and has recently tasted success in helping AFC Wrexham gain promotion back into the Football League. But there's more to him than football and goalkeeping. Full of charisma and sometimes labeled the nicest man in football, he's fully embraced modern social media to bring the fans closer than ever to football.


というわけで、本日はベンフォスター特集です。プレミアリーグのファンだと、ベンフォスターしてるんじゃないかなと思うんですけど。有名なのはマンチェスターユナイテッドに所属していて、イングランド代表でも8試合プレーしていた。僕はですねワトフォードのときの印象は強いかな。 トミーはいつのときを覚えてる?

Tommy - 01:12:
I remember him - yeah, Watford. Maybe Birmingham is my strongest memory.



Tommy - 02:28:
The first word I used in the introduction is charisma: a special magnetic charm or appeal. For example, "Ben Foster is full of charisma, making him a natural in front of the camera.”


Tommy - 02:51:
I saw in the notes you put charisma. So I thought, oh, maybe it's a word used by Japanese people. It's a nice word. It's a very positive meaning. If you have charisma...

He’s got charisma.

Tommy - 03:02:
That's right, yeah. You have charisma.

The second word is easygoing: relaxed and not easily upset or worried. For example, "Ben Foster has an easy-going personality."


Tommy - 03:18:
Yeah, it's another very positive one. Easygoing is, I think, a good thing. You don't get too stressed out by things. Yeah, I think easygoing is a good word. Number three is enthusiasm: a feeling of energetic interest in a particular subject or activity. For example, "Ryan Reynolds' enthusiasm for Rexam and the town have won over the club's fans."


Tommy - 03:51:
Really? I didn't see that. Wow, that's very enthusiastic then. So that's how you'd say that you're enthusiastic about something. I'm enthusiastic about football. I picked a fourth word this week, actually, because I thought when I saw notes charisma, I thought, oh, maybe that's a word that our listeners would know so I added a fourth word at the end. Prolific: producing a great number or amount of something. For example, "Erling Harland is a prolific goal scorer."

Prolific. 難しい言葉何か。大きな記録を打ち立てる。

Tommy - 04:27:
Yeah, and I'm going to use this word later on in the show and I challenge you to try and find where I've used it.

Alright, so let's start with 'who is Ben Foster?' As you said, I'm sure fans of the Premier League, people who've been watching football for maybe five or ten years would know him. He's an English goalkeeper who's played for teams like Stoke, Birmingham, Watford, West Brom and Manchester United.


Tommy - 05:21:
That's right, yeah. He's had great success, actually, as you mentioned, at Manchester United being a part of those teams. He won the League Cup in 2009 against Tottenham in a penalty shootout. He saved a couple of penalties and Manchester United won the League Cup. In 2011 he won the League Cup with Birmingham against Arsenal. He won the LDV Vans Trophy or the Football League Trophy, which I'll mention a bit later as well, when he played for Wrexham, and now he's been promoted. So he's been very successful in his career, despite playing for some smaller clubs as well. Birmingham, Watford, West Brom, Stoke, they're not the biggest clubs.


Tommy - 06:03:
He's got two older brothers and he says that's partly why he became a goalkeeper because as the youngest, they would put him in goal and just shoot at him. So he basically learned to become a goalkeeper from his brothers.


Tommy - 06:20:
I'm the youngest, so I can definitely appreciate that. That's how my brothers were to me. And his story about becoming a pro footballer is interesting as well. Totally random how it happened. He was playing a match and there was a scout nearby who was stuck in traffic. This scout saw floodlights and thought, oh, whilst I'm waiting in traffic, maybe I should just go and watch a football match. So he went to this ground, saw Ben Foster in goal, and Ben Foster stood out, the scout was just impressed immediately. So this scout decided to keep following Ben Foster. He went to a few other games and eventually, this led to him transferring to Stoke.


Tommy - 07:26:
I wonder how many football stories are like this. Positive and negative. This is a positive that the scout just happened to find this game and happened to find Ben Foster. There's probably negative stories of the opposite where maybe a player got stuck in traffic so they couldn't play the match and the scout didn't see them.


Tommy - 07:47:
Yeah, there's just so much luck involved in making it as a professional footballer as well as hard work, of course.


Tommy - 07:54:
That's right. Yeah. You do hear that.

After joining Stoke, I think Stoke were in the Championship or maybe the Premier League when he joined them, so he went out on loan to Wrexham. So the team we're talking about at the end of this story is also at the beginning of this story. He went to Wrexham when I think, as you said, he was about 19. And in this team, another coincidence was Darren Ferguson, who is the son of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Alex Ferguson went to watch Wrexham versus Southend in that Football League Trophy Final that I mentioned in 2005. Ferguson just went to watch his son, not to scout or anything, but he was impressed by Ben Foster in goal and so the rumours started. Ben Foster heard that Manchester United might be interested in him. Darren Ferguson, his teammate, was telling him, "hey, my dad quite likes you, he might want to sign you." And that put a lot of pressure on Ben Foster because he still had a few games to play. But he did well and eventually signed for Manchester United.


Tommy - 09:36:
Yeah, just another coincidence. Just amazing. So he also has eight England caps, as you mentioned earlier, and he played at the 2014:** World Cup. He kept a clean sheet in England's last group game at that World Cup, and he's now at Wrexham, where he signed a short-term deal to replace their injured keeper. Again, as you mentioned earlier. And apart from being a good footballer and being a part of this amazing Wrexham story, he's also making a name for himself off the pitch with an extremely active and popular YouTube channel, which is 'Ben Foster, The Cycling GK. The Cycling Goalkeeper.


Tommy - 10:15:
Yeah, I've been watching this for a few months now. He's been doing it for a few years. I didn't realise it at the time. I've only caught on recently. Yeah, it's an interesting podcast.


Tommy - 10:27:
That's right. Exactly. We'll get into a little bit of that later on, actually.

後ほど喋ります。2つチャンネルがあって、ベンフォスター ザ サイクリングゴールキーパーが登録者が140万人いて、もう1つ、ポッドキャストのYouTube。フォズキャスト、ベンフォスターポッドキャストはそちらは登録者20万人。このYouTubeの話は後ほど詳しくしてみようと思います。

Tommy - 10:50:
Just to round off the story about his playing career. He retired, as you said, last year when his contract expired aged 39. And he's often been called the nicest person in football. He's done some good things for kids with disabilities and for other charity partners. I know he sponsors some local teams now, some local youth teams. So he just seems like an all-around nice person.


Tommy - 11:23:
Yeah, it's just the way he has a natural ability to talk to people. I think that charisma that we mentioned in the vocab. He has charisma. He just is able to fit in any situation and just seem totally natural. And the way he dealt with this young child with a disability was just beautiful.


Tommy - 11:45:
So let's talk about how he ended up at Wrexham the second time, most recently. As I mentioned, he started his career at Wrexham on loan, basically, and then this year, on March 18, Wrexham's number-one goalkeeper, Rob Lainton, picked up an injury. The usual backup was a guy called Mark Howard, and there was some speculation that signing Ben Foster and Ben Foster becoming the number one at Wrexham would upset Mark Howard. He's the number two goalkeeper, shouldn't he play now? Why would you go and sign another goalkeeper? One of the funniest parts of this story is Mark Howard also has a podcast. It seems like everyone's got a podcast now.


Tommy - 12:26:
Yeah. Ben Foster was a guest on Mark Howard's show, actually, and they talked openly about the transfer. It was quite interesting. And I thought Mark was really good with how he said...well, let's listen to it. Actually, I'll play the clip.


Mark Howard:
The Gaffer phoned me Wednesday night. I'm walking into my daughter's school play and he's gone: "Chomp, Ive got a chance to sign Ben Foster." And I said straight away, just instinct went, do it. If it gets us over the line, do it, mate. 

Ben Foster:
Ah, that's nice!

Mark Howard:
And he went, "I don't want to upset you." And I was like, "Gaffer if it gets us over the line and we get promoted, I don't care."

Ben Foster:
Oh, mate.

Mark Howard:
And obviously that getting to meet you and that, and getting to know you now of training with you and that, it's like an absolute pleasure. But at first, everyone thought, oh, Mark would be so pissed. Like, proper pissed. And then obviously, after you coming in, I was like, if it gets through that door, mate, and we get promoted, let's just enjoy that moment.

Ben Foster:
Mate that is so proper that is. Honestly, that is so proper. 

Mark Howard:
That's what goalkeeping is about...

Tommy - 13:23:
It might be a little bit hard to understand. They talk very quickly in that minute clip, but basically, Mark was saying, if this is good for Wrexham, then I'm happy. I don't care about my personal situation. Of course, he'd love to play, but more important than that is Wrexham getting promoted. It was a really mature and professional way of looking at this signing. And I think also he saw Ben Foster, this player with so much experience, why wouldn't you want him to come in? And then you can learn from him and see how he prepares for matches and things like that. A really interesting insight with Mark Howard.



Tommy - 14:49:
I think it's a great part of this story that Mark Howard just happens to have his own podcast to tell his story as well because I think it is important. We're not talking about the highest level of football here, where these players are earning a lot of money. We're talking about the fifth division of football. These players - your career might be ten years and you're spending a lot of that on the bench as a second goalkeeper. It's amazing what Mark Howard said, I think.


Tommy - 15:37:
Just to round off the story of Ben Foster joining Wrexham, basically, it happened via agents. One of the guys he does the podcast with spoke with Wrexham and said, oh, do you need a goalkeeper? Wrexham kind of said, yeah, maybe we do. And it just kind of happened, I think, over the course of three days or so. It was really quick. And then suddenly Ben Foster is at Wrexham with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhaney. And as you said before, saving that penalty against Notts County just a few weeks ago. What an impact. I mean, that is why they signed him, for that kind of impact. And winning that match, saving that penalty already was a massive step to winning the league and getting promotion.

あの試合ね、結構長めのハイライトを見たんだけど、あれ、なんでベンフォスターここにいるの?って、なりましたね。ドキュメンタリーを見ていたので、レイントンだっけ ?正ゴールキーパーの彼が止めたんだろうなと思ったら、あれ?知ってる顔がいるぞみたいな。

Tommy - 16:32:
Yeah, of course. Rob Lainton was quite heavily focused in that show. They did a bit of an episode on him. So he was the goalkeeping star and now it's Ben Foster. But Ben Foster is more than a goalkeeping star, as we've mentioned, he's a YouTube star.

And this is probably the part that I wanted to talk about most on this episode because it's a really interesting thing that he's doing and has been doing for a few years now. So, as we mentioned, he started a YouTube channel under the name The Cycling Goalkeeper, which is a hint at one of his other passions, cycling. That passion for cycling actually started in 2020 during COVID Lockdowns, when he started to go out cycling just to try and keep fit. And at that point, he also discovered that these cycles also helped his mental health. He found himself more positive and staying positive through that incredibly tough COVID Lockdown. So he basically fell in love with cycling.


Tommy - 17:38:
I imagine in your contract it says you're not allowed to cycle.


Tommy - 17:43:
Yeah, I think there's probably a part…

Tommy - 17:49:
That's right, yes. Cycling is not so obviously not as dangerous as some other sports, but I could imagine higher profile players probably aren't allowed to cycle, so that might be why.


Tommy - 18:19:
You didn't? Too hard? So around this time, he also started his YouTube channel. Again, living through COVID lockdowns there just wasn't much to do at that time. And he also wanted to try and bring some positivity to the fans. They couldn't go to games at this point, so he thought, well, maybe I can take the games to them by filming them. He has 238 videos on this YouTube channel, so he is prolific. He uploads a lot of content. 238 videos on his YouTube channel. He does the podcast as well. He's been on other people's podcasts. He's just all over the place on social media, in a good way. He's everywhere. He is prolific.


Tommy - 19:22:
And if you think about it, COVID is partly why we started our podcast, too. Right? Part of why but we've continued. He has 1.4 million subscribers, as you mentioned, on his YouTube channel, which is a lot of people.


Tommy - 19:34:
Now with the EFL, of course -- the English Football League -- has rules about who can take videos of matches and, more importantly, who can share that footage online. So they had to come to an agreement with Ben Foster. Ben Foster had been putting a GoPro in the back of his net, a camera to record goals and other events during a match, and then upload it, which is technically illegal. It's against the Football League's license agreements. So he had to come to a deal with them, basically agreeing to donate any money he makes from this YouTube channel to a mental health charity called Mind.


Tommy - 20:17:
Yeah, which is a great result. The Football League could have said, "No, you're not allowed to do this." End of story. And then it would have ended a lot. It would have ended not only an interesting YouTube channel and an interesting story, it would have also taken money away from this mental health charity. So they've come to a great agreement here. Really clever and a good way to resolve a very easy thing to resolve. Sometimes these things get difficult for stupid reasons.


Tommy - 21:10:
That's right, yeah, so he's basically replaced documentaries like Sunderland Till I Die, all those other things with his own. No one can go as close as he is. He is literally on the pitch, playing in the match. You can't get closer.


Tommy - 21:32:
Exactly. Yes. The documentaries take months and months to edit and then produce and distribute. So, yeah, this is like three days after a match he's putting this content out. He actually got even closer in the last match against Boreham Wood, the one that they confirmed promotion. Instead of having a GoPro -- or he had a GoPro in the back of his net, he also had a camera on his chest.


Tommy - 21:56:
That's right. He was goalkeeping with a camera on his chest! So there's some amazing footage. I would highly recommend going and watching his video from the promotion match the other day.


Tommy - 22:09:
I'm sure there's a number of things I'd be worried about. It falling off. As a referee, you're not allowed jewelry because it could be a danger to other players. If a player went up for a header and headed his camera...I think it's quite small, but still, it's very interesting. It's kind of setting new trends and new rules, potentially, for football, that players can have cameras.


Tommy - 22:45:
Exactly. It's the first time it's ever been done in a real match. I imagine he didn't get permission for this. There's no way, I think this is one that I would kind of think the rules say you're not allowed physical objects, so I wonder if he'll get in trouble for this one. But it made for amazing footage. It's an amazing video. He got other criticism as well, actually, during his time at Watford. Some very predictable criticism. Watford were in a relegation battle at this point, so there was an article at the time talking about how his priorities might be compromised. For example, instead of focusing on playing football, training, making sure he's playing well in the match, he's making videos, he's putting a camera in his goal. What's more important to you, winning matches or your social media? So he got some criticism, even from other players. Apparently, someone in the Watford team thought it was strange that he was allowed to put his camera wherever he wanted. He had his camera in the dressing room after matches and things like that as well. I imagine that would make some players uncomfortable. And one player said, "It makes me so angry. Focus your dedication and commitment to the club, because in return you receive a huge salary and privileged, privileged life."


Tommy - 24:06:
Exactly. Yes.


Tommy - 24:13:
But I think Wrexham is different as well because it's not just Ben Foster who's videoing things. It's the owners of the team, too. They've got cameras in the dressing room for the last two years, so I think he definitely suits. And I forgot to mention this before, I think this is partly why Wrexham signed him. They've got two owners who are Hollywood superstars. They know what video can do, the power of video and promotion, and they saw a goalkeeper with 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, and they said we could get him and make him play for our team and have him record that's amazing promotion for the team.


Tommy - 24:59:
Yeah, I saw they want to play golf with him. Yeah, they're very savvy owners.

I do like what he says about social media as well, though, because although he uses it a lot, he's still quite realistic about it. There's a good quote from him, which I'll read. "I've seen them when we get in at full time, and the first thing they're doing is checking what some random bloke in his bedroom has said about him. And they'll take it in as well. It's a shame, really, because the only people that you should really listen to are the coaches, your loved ones, your parents, people that really matter." So this is basically saying players after the match go on their phone, they look at Instagram, they look at Twitter, they're being criticised by fans, they're getting abusive messages. And it affects them as a player, which I think is very true. I think if I was a coach, I would ban mobile phones from the dressing room, I think. I don't think there's any positive to it, apart from maybe contacting your family, obviously, so ban social media because there's no positive to it.


Tommy - 27:10:
I agree. But I don't think we need every player to be doing this. I think having Ben Foster, Peter Crouch, people like this, that's all we need. We don't need every single player giving us photos from the dressing room or tweeting about the training or whatever. Just a little bit of content is good, I think. Social media is just used too much in general, by everyone, not just footballers, and it's never real, that's the thing. Social media is typically just good photos, the photos of good times. And everyone knows not every day is a good day. So that's why I don't like it.

これが正しいんじゃないかっていう方法は見つけるの難しいのかなと思う。日本の選手は、那須大輔さんが今一番多かった、44万人。長友佑都 26万、松井大輔さん6万人。長友選手に限って言うと、FC東京に復帰してからは、YouTubeはアップされてなかったので、やっぱり日本で続けるのは大変なんだろうなと思いますね。海外にいるからこそ、何か発信できるみたいなのもあるかな。那須さんは、スタジアムで時々見かけるんだけど、若者に囲まれている。だからYouTubeをやると、有名になるんだなってのはね思いましたね。

Tommy - 28:30:
He also does a podcast, as we've mentioned, called The Fozcast. F-O-Z-C-A-S-T - Fozcast, which recently signed an exclusivity deal with Spotify. It used to be available on Apple and other platforms. Now it's just Spotify, so he's doing very well out of this, for sure. It's amazing for him. That podcast is actually available to watch on YouTube as well, and it includes a show called The Football Fill-in, which is basically Ben Foster and a guy called Tom Ochoa, I think it is, and typically one other person, and they just talk about football, usually about the matches that have happened recently. They're all wearing different shirts every week, they talk about the shirts and things like that. It's an interesting show to watch, but it also gives insight into Ben Foster's life as a footballer. So, again, I'll use that word. He is prolific. He is just uploading, like, every single day it seems like something some sort of content.

それすごいよね。昨日さこの番組、Spotifyで見てみたんだけど、Spotifyの中でも映像が出てきましたね。パソコンで見たんだけど、喋ってるのがYouTubeみたく出てきてて、すごい聞きやすかった よかったですね。番組もスタジオっぽくなってるし、なんかしっかり作り上げてるな。

Tommy - 29:46:
So I did hear on one of the episodes as well. He doesn't edit these himself. He has someone edit for him. So, yeah, I would love that. That's what I need, someone to help edit!

I think, as we've kind of been mentioning, it's really interesting, his place as a footballer on social media because whilst a lot of footballers use it, they usually employ a person or an agency to manage their social media. So it's not Lionel Messi uploading onto Instagram and Twitter. It's an agency. He's paying someone to manage that. Some players are also paid by specific platform platforms to post content on there. I think Ben Foster joins Peter Crouch as the king of football social media, though. Those two, are just kind of leading the way.


Tommy - 31:12:
Definitely, I think there is a difference for sure.


Tommy - 32:24:
Don't give him any ideas though. He'll steal our listeners!


Tommy - 32:29:
Yeah, please don't do that, Maya. I agree though I think even inside Japan, doing an interview series with Japanese players who can speak English -- it doesn't have to be perfect English. I think that's a really interesting way to -- when footballers talk, they often revert to cliches, they're media trained. I think if you did it in their second language, you'd probably get a bit more honesty because it's a lot harder to do that in your second language.

そうだよね。今まで一緒にプレーした選手と、英語でもイタリア語でも、やってほしいなっていうふうには思いますけど、何を勝手なこと言ってんだって怒られそうですね。 僕が英語で質問投稿してみよかと思いましたね。

Tommy - 33:16:
Maybe we should submit something. Or get him on the show so we can ask him directly here.


Tommy - 33:26:
Please, yeah, we'd love to have you come and join us! So that's Ben Foster really interesting, I think. Yeah, go and cheque him out on YouTube. It's definitely difficult English at times. He speaks very, very casually in some ways. He's kind of like a teenager with some of the words he uses, I find. His reactions. He often says, "ah, that's class!" and things like that, which feels very kind of young person talk to me. But he is definitely a nice person. He's got charisma, he's just interesting to listen to. So highly recommended.


Tommy - 33:56:
Alrighty, we got a comment as well from Ayako-san:

"Belatedly, thank you very much for organising the fun event the other day. I find other people's passion and love for football really amazing. Since listening to this podcast, it is now an essential part of my weekly routine. I wish you can find a sustainable way to into this program. Thanks for doing kind time-consuming editing work, Tommy. As for pre-season tours, I have a bad memory. I bought a ticket for PSG versus Gamba at Suita Stadium last summer. As you said, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the real Mbappe, Neymar, Messi, but was forced to sell it at half price due to a COVID infection. This experience reminded me of the importance of being fit and healthy. Golden Week is coming soon. I hope you'll have nice holidays. Bye for now.


Tommy - 34:49:
Amazing comment. Yeah, thank you very much. Few things I want to pick up there. Time-consuming editing work. Yes, it is very tough. I spoke about it, actually at the event the other day. It's quite difficult. So maybe we should find Ben Foster's editor and he can help me. That's really a big shame to miss that match and have to sell the ticket for half price due to COVID.


Yeah, that's really tough, so I'm sorry to hear that, but I understand wanting to see Mbappe Messi Neymar, that's a pretty amazing chance to see them in Japan. So I do understand it, as I said last week, and she signed off with "bye for now", as you do.

Bye for nowがついにはやりましたね。よかったです。3年間、言い続けてきてよかったなと思います。

Tommy - 35:40:
So thank you very much, Ayako-san. That's a really nice comment. It was great to meet you as well. We really enjoyed having you at the event, so thank you very much for coming along.


Tommy - 35:53:
Thank you very much to everyone. Yes. As Ayako-san says, Golden Week is coming soon, so we hope you have a nice little break next week.


Tommy - 36:03:
I'll be going to Cerezo versus Gamba. Of course, we had a couple of other guests at the event last week who are Gamba fans and they're going to be at the match. I'd like to run into them.


Thank you very much as always for listening. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. Definitely check out our website. There's a few videos and links to all of these podcasts and YouTube channels that we've mentioned of Ben Foster's. Go and have a look, it's really interesting content. We'll see you again next time.

皆様からのお便り、お待ちしております。ぜひとも今週、ベンフォスターの映像を見て、感想などお待ちしております。サッカーと英語 ポッドキャストと調べていただけると、僕たちのページ上の方に出てくると思います。各回の放送の下の方にコメントできますので、そちらから答えでお待ちしております。文字起こし公開中ですので、ぜひともチェックしてみてください。それではまた来週です。 Bye for now.

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