Blood-stained Steve Foster for England!

With an international weekend of football approaching, now seems an apt time to share this article discussing Steve Foster’s England chances. From the 1980/81 season:

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Steve Foster, Brighton’s giant centre-half, has a habit of bumping into things. Like Andy Gray’s head and Justin Fashanu’s elbow!

“I received a bad cut on the first day of the season, against Wolves,” he says. “Andy and I went for a high ball and cracked our heads together. That left me with a two inch cut on my forehead.

“I had to go off, but I wanted to get back as soon as possible. They gave me an injection, but it hadn’t worked properly when they put a couple of stitches in, so it was a bit painful. But when I got on the field again, the injection took effect. I didn’t feel anything then.”

With a huge white bandage ~ across his brow, Foster looked like soldier in the heart of a battle. Grown men winced as he continued to win his duel in the air, the ball smacking into the plaster on, his head. By the end of the game, he looked drained. His shirt was stained with blood. But he dismisses the incident with a shrug.

“I had a headache afterwards, but that was about all. I wanted to be there at the final whistle. It was the same when I got cut against Norwich. I went for a high bail with Fashanu that time. That was a bad one, but I’d rather finish a game, before getting patched up.”

Here’s Foster nursing a broken nose…

Foster’s gutsy attitude is admired by Brighton boss, Alan Mullery, who has signed him on a ten-year contract.

“Steve’s a powerful player, with tremendous character. He’s very competitive. He wants to win and that’s the only attitude to have in this game,” says Mullery.

“I think he should be England’s next centre-half. He has the skill and he has the heart to succeed at international level.”

“It’s nice to hear the boss saying things like that,” says Steve, “but I know the way to make your name is to do well for your club. That’s what I’m concentrating on.

“But, of course, I’d be proud to play for England. You often hear of the pride of the Scots. Well, if I ever played for my country, I’d be as proud as any Scot has ever been. It’d be the biggest thrill of my life.”

Foster, who Mullery signed from Portsmouth in the summer of 1979, has had a busy season, as the Seagulls have battled to establish their right to First Division status.

There have been disasters, like the 4-3 defeat at Everton, and triumphs, like the 1-0 home win over Ipswich, when Foster snuffed out the menace of Paul Mariner.

“i’m enjoying playing alongside Mark Lawrenson at the back. I think our styles go well together.

We gave away some silly goals, especially at the start of the season, but we’re getting it together now. He’s got so much skill and he reads the game so well. Playing with someone like that every week can’t be bad!”

Ironically, Brighton’s First Division fight has given Steve’s game a terrific boost. Defenders, like ‘keepers, often perform best under pressure. That was certainly true, last term, when Seagulls’ fans voted Foster their “Player of The Year”. On the field he is a hard competitor.

Away from the action, he’s the Goldstone’s gentle giant. “‘1 enjoy having s laugh and joke with the other players. This is a happy club. They all kid me because I’m lucky at cards.

“They say they’re going to buy shares in me. We were at a reception the other week and they were joking about ‘Lucky Fossie’. Just then they called out the raffle winners. Guess who got first prize?”

With luck like that, combined with his tremendous determination and competitive spirit, Steve Foster would be a safe bet to lead Brighton away from the First Division relegation zone towards the promised land of security among soccer’s big boys.

And perhaps then he can make the England place his…

Foster eventually made his England debut against Northern Ireland at Wembley on 23rd February 1982. Partnering Dave Watson at the heart of the defence, the Brighton skipper played his part in a 4-0 victory. Three months later, Foster again helped England keep a clean sheet, with the Netherlands defeated 2-0. It was enough to book his place to Espana ’82, where he took Terry Butcher’s starting place for the final group game against Kuwait, a 1-0 victory.

He never got another England chance after that, but that record of three clean sheets in three matches is one about which he can be justifiably proud.

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