A RELIABLE ‘GREAT WALL’
Saints keeper Forster ends Milner’s sevenand-a-half year spot-kick record
LONDON about his previous encounters with Milner: “We were both at Newcastle when we were younger. And obviously at England (we have been in squads together).
“That was the first competitive penalty that I’ve faced against him. On the training pitch we’ve faced each other quite a bit.”
It was a rare occasion when a penalty taker deserved no blame for a save. Hit low and hard to Forster’s right, few would have backed this to be the moment that Milner’s seven-and-a-half year run without missing a spotkick ended.
It was, Forster superbly reaching the ball with one of those shovel-like hands and turning it around the post.
“I think that could well be the first penalty I’ve saved from him to be honest, even in training,” he revealed.
While much has been made of the mind games before the penalty, with the goalkeeper speaking to Milner and scuffing the spot, Forster does not believe it had much of an impact.
“I think a lot of clubs now try and delay the taking of a penalty,” he continued. “It just puts a little bit more pressure on and gives the taker a bit more time to think about it. With the player he is, I don’t think it would have affected him too much.”
Sunday was another marker of a strange season for Southampton. An introduction to European football ended earlier, in Forster’s view, than it should have. They were moments from glory in the League Cup final against Manchester United and probably deserved to win it.
This feels like a slight blip in the consistent improvement at St. Mary’s during their stunning rise from League One. One day there is an expectation both here and in Forster’s mind that Champions League football will come.
Even before then, Southampton could still have a big say in how the Premier League’s top clubs finish. Arsenal, currently sixth, are the visitors today, while fifth-placed Manchester United come to town on May 17.
The 29-year-old is looking forward to the challenge: “Everyone wants to play the big teams. When you’re a kid you always dream of playing in games like that. You get to test yourself against the best players in the world.
“We’ve got a run of playing the big teams, that’s just how it’s worked out, and it’s fantastic to play them.”
And Forster, probably one of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers, wants it for himself more regularly. “Looking back, I got to play Champions League football at Celtic. To play in competitions like that is something a bit special.
“That’s definitely what every player strives for, to play in those games week in and week out, to play Champions League football. That’s the ambition that not only I but every player in football has.”
The Hexham-born stopper is definitely one of the top goalkeepers in the English class, yet he has failed to make an appearance at either of the tournaments he has been called up for.
The presence of Joe Hart, someone he is close to, has stopped him from achieving more for the Three Lions.
The six-cap star admits that he is aiming to be first choice by the time Russia 2018 rolls around.
“That’s what you want to do when you grow up. You want to go to World Cups and play. If I did that it would be a very special moment for me.
“I’d love to be England’s No 1, I’m not going to deny that. Joe’s quite rightly the No 1.
“I just have to keep working here and try and play as well as I can here. If I can, it puts pressure on him.” Daily Mail
Fraser Forster is eyeing England’s No 1 spot.