Lyle Foster: Learning from 'crazy' Haaland, replicating Benni and Radebe's Premier League legacy

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Lyle Foster of Burnley is challenged by Rico Lewis of Manchester City during the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final match (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Lyle Foster of Burnley is challenged by Rico Lewis of Manchester City during the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final match (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
  • Bafana Bafana forward Lyle Foster put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal with English outfit Burnley in January.
  • The 22-year-old opens up about what he learned from Erling Haaand as Man City thrashed the Turf Moor side in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
  • He wants to create a legacy in English football such as Bafana Bafana greats Benni McCarthy and Lucas Radebe.

Bafana Bafana striker Lyle Foster is back on South African shores after a life-changing two-and-a-half months.

With six appearances in the second-tier Championship, four appearances in the FA Cup and a goal to his name, the former Orlando Pirates target man already got a good taste of what it would be like to play in the Premier League and the difficulties involved.

Last weekend, Burnley boss Vincent Kompany took his team to the Etihad Stadium to face his former side, Manchester City, in the FA Cup quarter-finals, a match ending 6-0 in favour of Pep Guardiola's charges.

ALSO READ | Ka-ching! Bafana's Foster on being SA's most expensive player: 'I try not to think about it'

But Foster took the match as an important lesson in his development. He gained further knowledge in watching Erling Haaland up close as the Norwegian ended up leaving with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick.

"Score goals, that's all I see him do," Foster told reporters in Johannesburg ahead of Bafana’s crucial home and away Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Liberia.

"His movement, just the way he positions himself. It is crazy. Every rebound comes to him.

"Some people might think it’s luck, but if he does it so often, it has to be intentional.

"It all has to do with his movement so definitely his movement. Scoring goals is something I can learn."

In early January, there were murmurs that legendary City defender and current Burnley head coach Kompany was keeping tabs on the 22-year-old.

He was having one of his best seasons since turning professional from the time he first touched foot in France with Monaco, spent an injury-prone year in Portugal before ending up in Belgium, where things began to change.

MUST READ | In good Kompany: How SA football's brightest star Lyle Foster landed dream English transfer

A loan stint with Westerlo turned permanent resulted in Kompany keeping a close eye on the player and eventually showed his hand in January after watching Foster in action.

It was a match Westerlo suffered defeat, but City legend needed no further convincing and urged Burnley to make him South Africa's most expensive player, surpassing legendary Benni McCarthy.

Burnley is expected to win the Championship and gain promotion to the biggest league in world football, and that is a dream Foster wants to see come true.

READ | Bafana coach wary of 'enormous bonus' spurring on Liberia in Afcon qualifiers

The Turf Moor side boasts a healthy 13-point lead at the top of the standings, with nine league matches remaining.

"Everyone comes into training every day with being in mind that we're working to get to the Premier League," Foster said.

"There are some guys in the team who have been there and played six [or] seven years in the Premier League. They tell you stories about how great it is.

"Ashley Barnes, for instance, told me how it feels, to just go in the Premier League. That's something I want to feel. I think every kid growing up who loves football wants to play in the Premier League.

"I'm really looking forward to it, but  we still have a job to do in the Championship, and hopefully, we can finish it off."

Replicating Bafana greats

If Burnley finish the job, Foster will follow in the footsteps of legendary Bafana Bafana greats.

McCarthy (Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United), Quinton Fortune (Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers), Lucas Radebe (Leeds United), Shaun Bartlett (Charlton Athletic), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth) and Steven Pienaar (Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland) all had glittering careers in England's top-flight.

"I want to create some sort of legacy," Foster said when asked about having a long playing career in the Premier League.

"You want to leave something behind, and I think that only works if you work hard [and] if you're committed.  

"That's what Lucas has done over the years, and people like Benni have been spoken [of] very highly in the UK. [As well as] Steven Pienaar, Fortune and Aaron Mokoena.

"These guys have set the bar for players like us who come and follow them. They expect a lot of South African players because they know that we do have quality, and the previous players have shown."

South Africa host the West African nation on Friday, 24 March (18:00) at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, and play again four days later on Tuesday, 28 March (18:00 SA time) in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.

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