A CASUAL glance at the large screen told Ben Foster that Sir Alex Ferguson was in the crowd watching the LDV Vans Trophy final, but the goalkeeper had no idea that this would be the day that changed his life forever.

There was nothing unusual about the legendary Manchester United manager being at the Millennium Stadium on April 10, 2005.

After all, son Darren was captain of Wrexham who were facing Southend United on an historic day for the club in the Welsh capital.

Foster, on loan at The Racecourse from Stoke City, was focussed on the job in hand but was still able to look up from the pitch and see that TV cameras had picked out Ferguson.

But more importantly for a young goalkeeper making his way in the game, Ferguson had spotted him.

Wrexham won 2-0, with Foster pulling off a number of vital saves, and that man of the match display set the ball rolling for a dream move to Old Trafford.

"If it wasn't for Wrexham, I wouldn't have got a move to Manchester United," said Foster.

"That was literally how it started. It was almost like the right place at the right time.

"In the final we were on top. I had a few saves to make but we were doing well.

"I remember looking at the big screen and seeing Sir Alex.

"It clicked that Darren was playing for us and his dad had come to watch him. I think that is where it all started."

Foster had hit the right notes and it wasn't long before his captain told him that the Premier League giants were keeping an eye on him.

"Two or three weeks later Darren pulled me after training one day and asked me what was happening with my contract at Stoke," said Foster.

"I said I had one season left but I didn't really want to go back there because I knew I wasn't going to play.

"The manager was Tony Pulis who has a certain type of goalkeeper he likes to play and that is always an experienced goalkeeper.

"Darren said just keep doing what you are doing, you are doing really well, but I know that there is somebody watching you and they are going to be sending a scout to watch you.

"I was like: 'oh sh*t!' I remember going home and telling my girlfriend who is now my wife and mum of my kids. I said 'this is what Darren Ferguson told me today: and she was like: 'oh my God!'

"I knew Sir Alex came to a couple more games and goalkeeper coach Tony Coton came to most of the games from there on in.

"I kind of embraced it, took the challenge head on and finished the season fairly well for myself."

The rest is history as Foster signed for United in the summer and the 37-year-old, capped eight times by England, is still performing heroics in the top flight for Watford.

An illustrious career began at Wrexham and it was a spell that Foster, brought in by Denis Smith as a replacement for the injured Andy Dibble, fondly remembers.

"It was the first time I really got to be a real important part of a team," said Foster.

"I was first choice goalkeeper and playing week in, week out, but it was also such a nice club.

"The lads were great and we all got on so well.

"I just enjoyed coming into work every day and playing football Saturday, Saturday, Saturday. It was brilliant."

Foster could hardly believe that less than three months after joining Wrexham, he would be lining up for the club in a major final in front of more than 36,000 fans at the Millennium Stadium.

"You don't think of anything like that," said Foster.

"I was just buzzing to get out and play first team football.

"It was brilliant for me and I was enjoying myself but the fact I got to go and play in a cup final at The Millennium Stadium, which was the biggest game of my career, it was absolutely amazing.

"It was a fantastic day."

Wrexham, battling to avoid relegation from League One following a 10 point deduction for going into administration, and Southend, challenging for promotion in the division below, finished goalless after 90 minutes.

But the Reds went ahead in the first half of extra-time through prolific striker Juan Ugarte and Ferguson sealed victory in the closing minutes.

Foster admits he was relieved his side scored a crucial second goal to make the game safe and he heaped praise on the Reds' skipper who led by example on that sunny Sunday afternoon.

"We had done okay and had a few chances but to go into extra-time and win it the way we did," said Foster.

"I actually still remember Darren scoring that goal with two or three minutes to go; that goal was the nail in the coffin, you can finally breathe!

"What a really good feeling.

"Darren was incredible that day. I think Darren deserved to be Man of the Match because the work he put in that day, he was an absolute tank up and down the pitch.

"To be in them quarters of the pitch in the final minutes of the game, and to be able to put the ball in the net like he did, that was really nice for him."

Foster, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday a week before the final, has enjoyed some magical moments in his career and won more medals but the first will never be forgotten.

"I remember being back on the coach after the game going back to the hotel," said Foster.

"I was sitting opposite Andy Holt and we were both looking at our medals.

"It was the first medal I'd ever won, I caught eyes with Andy and we were both laughing. We were buzzing because we were so happy that we'd just won something.

"That was my first one so it will always be remembered, it is right up there."

The shirt that Foster wore that day still has pride of place among other items that he has collected during his career.

"We have moved house and are only renting at the minute so I have got a lot of stuff in storage but in my last house, I had my important shirts that mean a lot to me," said Foster.

"The likes of my Iker Casillas shirt when I played against Spain and Petr Cech's shirt, really amazing shirts, and I have got my LDV Vans Trophy shirt in the middle of them.

"My dad is a picture framer so he has done them all really nice for me and that is how high esteem I still hold that shirt.

"It has got all the signatures of all the lads and the medal on the bottom of it."

Wrexham had silverware in the bag but the points deduction proved to be a step too far and Smith's side were relegated to League Two at the end of the season.

Despite that disappointment as off the field events caught up with the club on the pitch, Foster is proud of what the players achieved on a historic day in Cardiff.

"We were well aware of what was going on with the club and what they were facing but as players who can't get embroiled in that," said Foster.

"You have just got to do your job and get on with it as best you can.

"Even though we got relegated, it was still a memorable season for a lot of us.

"Winning the LDV Vans Trophy was massive for us."

Foster, who has also played in the Premier League for Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, has gone onto bigger and better things after leaving Wrexham.

The Reds have since suffered another relegation and are currently spending a 12th season in non-league.

But Foster owes so much to Wrexham and would love to see his former club regain their place in the Football League.

"Football is a cruel game at times," added Foster.

"You see all the glory and all the shiny, pretty lights of the Premier League but these are the sorts of teams where careers start.

"Massive careers start from teams like Wrexham.

"Not only that but the way the club is. It is a family orientated club, everybody was so friendly and so welcoming when I was there.

"They deserve so much better. They should be okay this season and I wish them much more success in the years to come and hopefully they get back to where they should be.

"I do owe so much to the club, it is such a shame what has happened."