MIAMI (AP) — Even for a goalkeeper, Ben Foster's brothers thought he was crazy.
Foster walked away from the England team in 2011 to spend time with his young children between club matches rather than traveling the world. In a sport where players are reluctant to show any weaknesses, it was a surprising decision by one of the country's leading goalkeepers.
"A few thought I was barmy; a few could understand it," the 31-year-old Foster recalled Monday. "My mum and dad were supportive, my sister too, but my brothers said, 'What are you doing? What are you thinking?'"
Three years on, though, the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper is back with England and thousands of miles away from home in Miami en route to the World Cup. He was persuaded to return to the international scene last year by coach Roy Hodgson, who previously managed him at West Brom.
"When he gave me the call to ask me to come back to the team it was a very easy decision," said Foster, who will start Wednesday's World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador on Wednesday in Miami. "The kids were a bit older, four and five now, and it's a lot easier to be away from them. It was an easy decision to get back in."
But it wasn't so easy to walk away in 2011.
"I had a new born baby and another child under a year old. Family is a very important thing for me, and it felt like I was missing on them growing up," Foster said in a hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay.
"Everyone is entitled to give that criticism because most of the people back in England would give their right arm to be at a World Cup. I'm no different. For me at the time it was a huge deal and a big decision to make. Even now I'd stick by the decision and it's something I'd do again."
It's wasn't due to frustration at being behind Joe Hart in the pecking order, as he will be in the competitive games at the World Cup barring injury.
"When I was away from home with the team it was all I was thinking about was," Foster said of his children. "It was kind of taking away from my football, all I thought was I wanted to be back at home with my family. ... It's almost like home sickness, really. That was the overriding feeling whenever I was away."
He said his England teammates aren't afraid to open up about the potential struggles of spending almost two months on the road.
"We're quite good at talking about things like that," said Foster, a former Manchester United goalkeeper. "The good thing for this team at the minute, there are probably four or five teams with four or five players from each of those teams.
"So you are lucky to have a close friend near to you to talk through things like that. It's not like a taboo when it's hard to talk about it."
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris