Veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster has joined National League leaders Wrexham on a deal until the end of the season after turning down the chance to join Newcastle United.
The 39-year-old left Watford at the end last season after the club were relegated from the Premier League. In September, he announced he was retiring after turning down a short-term deal at St James’ Park.
Following an injury to Karl Darlow, Newcastle were in the market for another goalkeeper and turned to Foster before he opted against joining Eddie Howe’s side.
He revealed last month: “A bit earlier in the season I could have signed for Newcastle when Karl Darlow got a little injury. I was very close to doing it as well.
“I ummed and ahhed about it and eventually sort of decided I’d hung up my gloves and I’d done it for a reason and I was happy with that reason.”
However, he has now backtracked on his comments as he joins Wrexham’s bid to return to the Football League. The Welsh club have gained strong traction since being taken over by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and are top of the table with a game in hand over second-placed Notts County.
Foster spent time at Wrexham in 2005, on loan from Stoke, and has also had spells at Manchester United, Birmingham City and West Brom - along with his time at Watford.
And on his return to North Wales, Foster said: “I’m over the moon. I’ve been at the club an hour this morning and 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 today! I’m looking forward to getting started.
“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.”