Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Ben Foster and his "indefinite" decision

Never far from controversy, the England team was hit with a slightly surprising blow earlier today when Ben Foster stated he would be taking a break from international duties to focus on his club career, sparking debate and splitting those who consider it an honor to play for your country and those who don't really see the big deal about it.

Ben Foster has been heavily involved in the England set-up this season after first team football at Birmingham City made him, in Capello's eyes, available for selection. However, after only playing once for England this season and the niggling injuries he has picked up whilst being on international duty, Ben decided to call it a day - for now anyway.

I don't see the problem with this. He said himself he was doing it to prolong his career and at 28 which is a prime age for goalkeepers I feel it's a good idea, and obviously not one he has suddenly made on his own with no thinking behind it. It is a great honor to earn an England cap, something which Ben himself knows and has made clear, so it can't have been an easy decision for the Lemmington-born shot stopper. But putting his career into perspective, he came to the conclusion that international games will be something he has to sacrifice for now, and I for one respect him for making that kind of decision.

With the added fact that no one looks to be dislodging Joe Hart from his number one position any time soon, the other side of the argument is those who consider him to be disrespecting England somewhat by turning down the chance to play for them - even if it is only as a bench warmer. I agree with this to an extent. Playing for England is a great honor and in this day and age it seems as if fans, mostly, and players too don't think of it in such a high regard as we once did. But at the end of the day it is the players’ decision. What Ben did was something to, in the long-run, extend his career. Are we begrudging a player a chance to play at the highest level for as long as possible, for a few games? When he isn't even the current England number one anyway?

He has not done anything bad, anything to harm his reputation, or to dishonor Fabio Capello et al. His decision was not out of malice, it was not because "I don't get games so what's the point of being there." The choice he made was to aid his career and I will stand by Ben Foster in this decision because he made it whilst thinking about not only himself, but Birmingham City too.

He is a player that hasn't played a full season of competitive matches for years, and after his first full season back in the Premier League, with the added pressure of two long cup runs, surely he deserves a break, especially with the fact he is slightly injury prone. Even if he is “only a goalkeeper” – which is one of the arguments some people seem to be making.

We shouldn't be the ones to begrudge Foster for doing something that will help his career in the long run, but in my opinion I believe that the honor the comes with playing for England should be respected more by the players who are lucky enough to be chosen.

The club before country argument will always be there, this has just added a bit of fuel to the fire, especially with the under 21 debate still ongoing.

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