"It was easy for me to go back there"; former Celtic stopper Fraser Forster on loan spell

By Euan Davidson

April 16, 2021

Former Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster has been a huge miss this season.

The Southampton stopper has begun to regain his place as the no.1 for the Ralph Hassenhüttl’s side. He’s started 5 of the last six Saints matches, and the giant goalie was determined to restore the faith in him showed by the south-coast side.

Pertinent to our interests, though, Forster has opened up on the importance of his loan spell at Celtic. Formerly the Bhoys’ number 1, Forster returned last year, in dramatic style under the Paradise lights, to help the Bhoys win another league and treble.

Outstanding in Europe, Forster was back to his imperious best, the kind of form that won him the nickname ‘La Gran Muralla’ from the Spanish media [Telegraph]. He spoke to Southampton’s in-house media about the “easy” decision to come back to Glasgow.

Fraser Forster: one of the Celts who conquered Rome / (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

“I have a fantastic relationship” with Celtic, says Fraser Forster

Forster said [Southampton FC]:

“The hardest thing is when you’re not playing. You come into training but you’re not preparing for a game.

“But I believed in my ability. When the opportunity came for me to go to Celtic and play, that was perfect for me.

“To go and play 50, 60 games was fantastic. It was easy for me to go back there as it’s another club I have a fantastic relationship with. A lot of the staff were the same as my first time there, so it was like I’d never left. It was a great year, I had some great games.

“I got some game time and felt I just reminded people what I can do. I had a fantastic year there, won trophies and did well in Europe. I made the decision in the summer that I wanted to come back here and fight for my place. I’ve had to bide my time and the FA Cup has been crucial to that, but I got my head down and worked hard.”

Fraser Forster was colossal in the 2019 Betfred Cup Final / (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

How Celtic could have used La Gran Muralla this time round

It’s never a brilliant idea to harness our hopes on just one person, specifically a goalkeeper on loan to us. But Celtic fans, ourselves included, were desperate for the Great Wall to stay at the club. It looked like the best move for all parties, with Southampton reluctant to play the Geordie goalkeeper.

Yet, we were disappointed. Instead, Greek goalie Vasilis Barkas arrived for £4.5m in the summer of 2020, but hasn’t impressed [BBC]. Oddly, via Conor Hazard, we’re back to where we were before Forster’s loan. Scott Bain is much-improved this season, but a long-term goalkeeping target is surely on the top of the recruitment list ahead of a busy summer.

You can’t blame Fraser Forster for wanting to stick it out at Southampton. After all, they’re the club who pay his wages, and signed him from us in 2014 [Guardian].

What might’ve been, though. With La Gran Muralla between the sticks, we could’ve had a very different season indeed.

READ MORE: Why has our defence improved so drastically lately? Stephen Welsh has the answer.