GOALKEEPER Ben Foster became a professional footballer this week when he signed for Stoke City from Racing Club Warwick.
The talented 18-year-old joined the Nationwide Division Two side for an undisclosed, five-figure sum on Wednesday.Some cash will be paid up front, with more following on a per appearance basis. The Hampton Road club has also secured a selling on clause, entitling them to a percentage of any future transfer proceeds.Foster is on a 12 month deal, with the prospect of two more years after that. And he is following in the footsteps of possibly the two greatest goalkeepers in English football. Gordon Banks and Peter Shiltonboth played for Stoke.Foster, who graduated from Racing s Midland Floodlit Youth League title-winning side last year, will link up with his new team-mates in July. He said: "I m very excited. I ve always wanted to be a professional footballer and now I ve got my foot in the door."The man who spotted Foster playing in a youth team match earlier this season has told him he has an excellent chance of making it to the top of the game.Colin Dobson, head of talent identification at the Potteries club, said: "I think he s coming in at a very good time for Stoke. There aren t too many goalkeepers in front of him and if he does well he can go forward very quickly."Dobson, a former Sheffield Wednesday player, added: "It was his potential that I was interested in. The next year will be vital for him, it s all about how well he takes it all on board."He s going to be playing games with professionals and if you have got weaknesses they will find you out quickly."Racing Club boss Billy Hollywood has long championed Foster, promoting him to the first team as soon as former number one Craig Glover joined Bedworth United"After 12 months full-time training he will be a 100 per cent better goalkeeper. If he makes the improvements he showed here, the future looks very bright for him," he said.Hollywood would not be drawn on how the money will be spent. But he thinks the deal will benefit the Doc Marten s Western Division club s image as well as its bank balance. And he is confident he has another good keeper to step into Foster s shoes."We ve got Craig Dutton, who is a young lad of 22 but getting to grips with playing at this level. He can use the rest of this season as a learning curve, like a short-term apprenticeship, and we ll see how he progresses."