LONDON, Feb 28, 2011 (AFP) - Ben Foster admits Birmingham's stunning League Cup triumph against Arsenal gave him more satisfaction than his man of the match performance for Manchester United in the final two years ago.
The goalkeeper is becoming something of a League Cup specialist after taking home a winners' medal from Wembley for the third successive season, but his two previous victories with United were simply a case of living up to expectations.
|Ben Foster (L) celebrates at the end of the Carling Cup final football match between Arsenal and Birmingham. AFP|
Foster had been United's hero when they beat Tottenham on penalties in the 2009 League Cup final and was an unused substitute as Sir Alex Ferguson's team retained the trophy against Aston Villa last season.
But helping Birmingham beat hot favourites Arsenal 2-1 in Sunday's final meant far more to England international Foster, whose series of fine saves kept the Blues in the match after Nikola Zigic's opener until Obafemi Martins snatched the last minute winner.
"It's a great feeling. Today probably eclipses the other two because we were underdogs going into the game. It's a huge win," Foster said.
"To go into games like this with Manchester United you are expected to win but with a team like Birmingham it's against all odds really.
"It's a great achievement just to get here but to win against a team like Arsenal is incredible. We kept plugging away and got what I think we deserved."
United boss Ferguson still believes Foster is the best English goalkeeper of this generation and his saves from Andrei Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner underlined the Scot's belief.
They were certainly a stark contrast to the nervous display from young Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, whose fumble gifted Martins the winner.
Foster added: "We knew Arsenal were going to create chances and have possession, but we disrupted their style a bit.
"We knew any time we got the ball in their box there was a chance we could create something. I think we deserved it, I don't think Arsenal rattled us or anything. We put up a fantastic show."
Foster endured some difficult times at United after that 2009 final victory and he now admits he never felt completely comfortable at a club where winning was the only thing that mattered.
While Foster admired the competitive spirit of Ferguson, Gary Neville and company, he believes there is more to life than football.
His excellent performance at Wembley reflected his renewed confidence and a return to the England team is certainly not out of the question.
For now Foster is happy enough to savour the prospect of Europa League football coming to St Andrews next season, but not before making sure Birmingham climb away from the relegation battle into mid-table safety.
"I couldn't have imagined European football when I signed in the summer. I was just relieved to be getting first-team football," he said.
"Europe is something to look forward to for next year. We just need to kick on in the league, get a few results and we will be safe."