Wrexham’s Hollywood owners coax ex-England international out of retirement

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Former England goalkeeper Ben Foster has been coaxed out of retirement to join Wrexham, the National League club owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Foster announced his retirement last September at the age of 39 after more than 20 years in the professional game, having appeared in the Premier League for Manchester United, Birmingham, West Brom and Watford.

The goalkeeper revealed that he had turned down an offer from Newcastle to prolong his career when announcing his decision to bow out of the game, but has made a shock return in the fifth tier of English football.

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Foster, who won eight England caps, previously spent time at the Welsh club in 2005 as a loanee from Stoke, and said it was “nice to be back” until the end of the season.

“I’m over the moon,” said Foster, who arrives after Wrexham lost Rob Lainton to a knee ligament injury. “It seems a really nice place. Everyone is down to earth and the manager’s top class.

“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.

“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.”

Reynolds and McElhenney completed their takeover of the club in early 2021, with the first months of their investment covered in the Welcome to Wrexham documentary series, which aired last year.

Wrexham are currently three points clear at the top of the National League as they push for promotion, and confirmed the signing of striker Billy Waters from Barrow earlier this week.

Manager Phil Parkinson said of the addition of Foster: “We’re delighted to welcome Ben to the club. With Rob Lainton getting injured it was important we had all bases covered going into the last part of the season, which this signing ensures.”