JOHANNESBURG – Lyle Foster is living a dream he doesn’t want to wake up from. The 18-year-old forward was recently promoted to AS Monaco’s first team where he is rubbing shoulders with global stars like Cesc Fabregas and Radamel Falcao.
In a short space of time Foster went from a promising talent at Orlando Pirates to earning a move to France where he is on the books of the eight-time Ligue 1 champions. It doesn’t hurt that his new surroundings are also the picturesque setting of one of the most beautiful places in the world, a huge shift from the streets of Noordgesig in Soweto where he grew up.
“Life in France is good,” Foster said. “I enjoy it. I learn a lot there. It’s taking me time to adapt but I think that I am adapting well. I am enjoying myself and I am learning new things there. It helps me a lot, off the field with the mental aspect of my game being alone there. It’s a very good experience for me, I hope to keep on going longer.”
Foster is still finding his feet in France and Monaco. He made the move in January this year to continue his meteoric rise. In the handful of games he played for Pirates, he did enough to show that he can be one of the best forwards this country has ever produced. He sat on the bench for Monaco last month in their 1-0 win over Lille, building on his appearance in the Uefa Youth League.
“I believe that I am still living in a dream,” Foster said. “It was crazy when I got the call to be in the first team, just being with the world class players there - the likes of Nacer Chadli and Adrien Silva who have played in massive international tournaments - is unreal. It’s something very different and very big.
The hard work continues, it doesn’t stop because I haven’t played for the team. I have just been on the bench. My dream is to be a fulltime player, to play week in and week out. That’s what I have to concentrate on, and not get carried away by the moment.”
Foster’s immediate challenge is helping the Under-23 national team qualify for the Olympics. The side easily brushed aside Angola to set up a meeting with Zimbabwe. The winner of that match will go to Egypt for the 2019 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations. The top three teams in Egypt will book a ticket to Japan for the Olympics.
International football, through the junior national teams, has fast-tracked Foster’s progress. While he stars for the junior national teams, he is inspired by the star of the senior national team who is on the books of Brighton but is currently playing in Belgium’s Second tier for Royal Union Saint-Gilloise due to work permit issues.
“Percy Tau is a big motivation for us as youngsters,” Foster said. “Percy used to play in the MDC (MultiChoice Diski Challenge), a league that a lot of us played in. He was an unknown and now he is one of Bafana’s top marksman.
It’s a lesson to learn for us, something to be motivated and encouraged by. As we know, Percy is doing well that side and his performances are a motivation to us.”