FRASER FORSTER has pinpointed his two breathtaking saves in the 2-1 Europa League Group E triumph over Lazio at Parkhead last month as helping ease 18 months of agony at Southampton.
The towering keeper dropped down to third in the Saints’ pecking order behind Angus Gunn and Alex McCarthy and made only one first-team appearance since Boxing Day 2017.
But the 31-year-old former England international No.1 proved he had lost none of the ability that encouraged the south coast club to pay £10million for his services in the summer of 2014.
Forster won overwhelming acclaim as he somersaulted to his right to beat away a vicious volley from Danilo Cataldi that was heading for the back of his net for a last-gasp leveller for the Italian outfit. It was a moment that highlighted his lightning-swift reflexes and remarkable agility, However, the shotstopper admitted he derived more satisfaction from an early save to deny Marco Parolo.
The former Newcastle custodian, who had two loan seasons at Parkhead before boss Lennon made the switch permanent with a £2million move, is grateful for the Irishman, the club and goalkeeper coach Stevie Woods for helping resurrect his career.
Reflecting on the electrifying late stop to deny the Serie A cracks, Forster, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “I actually thought the save before that was the better save.
“For me, given the circumstances and the timing in the game, it was pretty much the last kick of the ball, everything around it made a bigger save than it was.
“When you chat about appreciating playing again and whatever, that moment is probably up there with the best in my career.
“Off the back of the previous 18 months, it was an actual moment where you are like: ‘That’s why you play football’.
“That moment for me was that. Given the 18 months before, stuff I’d had to deal with, stuff I’d been through, that was probably the first moment when I was like: ‘That’s why I’m here, that’s what I’ve missed’.
“It’s impossible to say how good that feeling is. Just adrenaline, relief, a feeling you are back.
“You don’t get that feeling in any other aspect of life. Given the previous 18 months, to have that feeling back was something very special.
“Probably, if I could pick one feeling out of my whole career, that would be the moment I appreciate the most.
“I always knew I could play at this level. But just as a one off feeling, having to played and to come back and be playing, you know 100 per cent you’ve done the right thing.”
Forster, who is gearing up to face the visit of Livingston on Saturday and the Europa League Group E confrontation with Rennes at Parkhead a week tonight, added: “Those European nights are something special.
“The atmosphere and everything to do with it – scoring so late in the game to go 2-1 up, then to make the save, it was just something very special.
“How many times have I watched it back? Not actually that many, to be honest.
“Obviously, people sent me it on Instagram, But since then I’ve just moved onto the next thing.
“I wasn’t aware of all the fuss.
“I just try and stay in my bubble and do my own thing.”
* Forster was speaking as he helped promote the launch of the 2020 Celtic FC Festival which begins on Friday, July 24 and runs for three days. Tickets from http://celticfcfestival.com