Foster reveals how starting a game with Fabregas at Monaco gave him a target in Europe

Lyle Foster (R) challenges Metz's Senegalese forward Habib Diallo (L) during his days at AS Monaco before his loan move from the French giants to a feeder team in Belgium.
Lyle Foster (R) challenges Metz's Senegalese forward Habib Diallo (L) during his days at AS Monaco before his loan move from the French giants to a feeder team in Belgium.
Image: JEAN CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

His seven months spent at the sparkling facilities of Monaco rubbing shoulders and playing a handful of games with superstars have given Lyle Foster a target to aim for‚ Cercle Bruges’s on-loan forward has said.

The 19-year-old Orlando Pirates youth product said his day spent training under Thierry Henry at the French giants‚ and starting a game with another former Arsenal World Cup-winner‚ Cesc Fabregas‚ gave him a taste of the big time.

Foster signed for Monaco in early January 2019‚ arrived and had a training session under 1998 World Cup-winner Henry‚ who was fired the next day by the relegation-threatened Ligue 1 club.

“I had my first training session with him and the next day he was gone‚ which was crazy‚” the SA Under-23 international said.

“But just that one day with him you could see how much knowledge he has about football. It was just a very good day for me and I wish it could have been longer.”

The teen had a decent enough preseason with Monaco to earn a start partnering Spanish 2010 World Cup-winner Fabregas – the former Arsenal‚ Chelsea and Barcelona star – up-front in their first 2019-20 Ligue 1 game last August‚ a 3-0 home defeat against Oympique Lyonnais.

Foster came on as a substitute in the next game‚ a 3-0 loss away against Metz. Monaco‚ recognising the need for an overhaul‚ brought in three big-name strikers and Foster was one of three youngsters loaned by manager Leonardo Jardim‚ who had replaced Henry‚ to Belgian top-flight sister club Cercle.

“To start the first league game with Cesc Fabregas on our team sheet was a brilliant experience for me‚” Foster said.

“Then obviously with Wissam Ben Yedder‚ Jean-Kevin Augustin and Islam Slimani – three world-known strikers – coming in‚ it would be hard for me to play.

“Ben Yedder is now the top scorer in Ligue 1‚ scoring more goals than the big names at PSG. I look up to him so much from the three weeks I spent with him at Monaco.

“He told me it was very important to be playing. I told my agent – ‘Look‚ I need to be playing this season’‚ and we found an option suitable for me at Cercle. And this season I have seen as a very big one for me.

“Monaco do keep in touch with me. They keep real close tabs on me and the other two players here from Monaco.

“They give feedback and identify areas where we can improve. It’s good to see that they are still involved and give that feedback. You have that feeling that at least your club still has an interest in you.”

Ben Yedder finished joint-top scorer when Ligue 1 was ended by the coronavirus on April 28 on 18 goals along with Paris Saint-Germain’s 2018 World Cup-winner Kylian Mbappé and Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé.

Foster enjoyed his best return in game time yet in his professional career at Cercle‚ the smaller Brugges club to Percy Tau’s Club Bruges‚ the teen playing 19 games though scoring just once as his team survived relegation in 14th place out of 16 sides in Belgium's Jupiler Pro League.