In the past 10 years there has hardly been a teenager who has moved straight from a league in Africa and made an immediate impact in Europe’s top 5 leagues and such was the case with South African teenager Lyle Foster.
In January 2019, Foster took a brave move to French former champions AS Monaco from Soweto giants Orlando Pirates.
When Foster arrived in France he was drafted into the club’s B team where he played 8 games bagging 2 goals between February and May before later being called to into the South African national U-20 FIFA World Cup squad.
His good performances with the B team and his World Cup exploits where he scored a goal against Argentina in the group stages earned him a call up to the AS Monaco first team for pre-season where he impressed manager Leornado Jardim who later gave him his senior team debut at the start of the 2019-20 season against giants Olympique Lyon as Monaco lost 3-1 on the day.
Foster made one more senior team appearance against FC Metz before being loaned out to Belgian Jupiler League Pro league side Cercle Brugge, for whom he played 18 league games scoring one goal mostly playing as a right winger and sometimes right midfielder.
In an interview with this publication at the end of last season Foster explained that the reason for that was the coach wanted to improve his defensive abilities and link up play with midfielders. He also revealed that he improved immensely last season and has become a better player overall.
Monaco recalled the striker for next season’s pre-season where he had a good pre-season scoring goals at training. But after considering all his options including offers from clubs like Stade Reims, Fenerbache, RB Salzburg, Villarreal and a host of other clubs who either wanted him on a permanent or loan basis in search of a space where he can play regularly without pressure and in a space where he would be valued, Foster decided to join Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitoria Guimaraes on a 5-year-deal.
The Guimaraes deal offers him an opportunity to be stable, develop without pressure, find his scoring boots, be at a good environment where he is valued.
Portugal is the 6th best league in the world and after Ligue 1 has the most exports to the English Premier League, Germany and Spain so should Foster do well a move to one of those leagues could be on the cards.
AS Monaco also put a buy back clause in the South African youth international’s contract. Foster now has to step up to the fore to fulfil the expectation his countrymen have bestowed on him as being one of the brightest young talents in the African game currently.
At a national team level South Africa is facing an end of an era specifically for the 2009 U-20 FIFA World Cup squad which featured the likes of Thulani Hlatshwayo, Kermit Erasmus, Thulani Serero, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Darren Keet, etc and with the Olympics moved to 2021 and SAFA’s vision 2022 closer, Foster and company may be needed to step up soon.
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By Prince Sobayeni