Ben Foden's Saints departure: Tom Vickers' view

Ben Foden will lead Saints out in his 250th and final appearance for the club on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Ben Foden will lead Saints out in his 250th and final appearance for the club on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Luther Burrell has labelled him 'one of a kind' and during his time at Saints, Ben Foden has certainly been one of the best.

Fittingly, he will finish his time at Franklin's Gardens by leading the team out on his 250th appearance this Saturday.

Those following in his footsteps as they take to the turf will be well aware of what the man in front of them has achieved as a Northampton player.

The squad watched a montage of Foden's Saints highlights on Wednesday morning, and it certainly won't have been a short clip.

Because the 32-year-old has accomplished so much since arriving in Northampton as a fresh-faced scrum-half in the summer of 2008.

He was transformed into a flying full-back who left many a European team trailing in his wake.

The 2010/11 season immediately springs to mind when you think of Foden and his 10-year stint at Saints.

Because during that campaign, Foden was simply fantastic.

Much has, rightly, been said about the inexorable pack that led Saints through Europe into the Heineken Cup final at Cardiff.

But make no mistake about it, Northampton's back line during that season was just as destructive.

In Foden and Chris Ashton, Saints had two arch-finishers.

Just when teams thought they were safe, Ashton and Foden would combine to conjure up something special.

Foden scored in both the semi-final and final of the Heineken Cup that year, but it was not just his attacking ability that set him apart.

His swagger was allied with a steel that stopped even the greatest in full stride.

In the final against Leinster, the try line beckoned for the legendary Brian O'Driscoll, but up stepped Foden to stand in his way, making an incredible last-gasp stop.

He was a brick wall on so many occasions, including for England, when he somehow managed to take down a rampaging David Denton in a Six Nations match in Scotland.

There are so many moments like that.

So many moments to remember about Foden, in attack and defence.

At his peak, he was surely the best 15 in Europe.

He popped up with big tries on big occasions, with one of his most important coming at Twickenham in May 2014, when Saints finally ended years of heartache to claim their first Premiership title.

Foden, as he has been in so many vital victories over the years, was instrumental in that triumph.

And though he has switched to the wing in recent times, he continues to make his mark when his team needs him most.

He dived over the line in the stunning Champions Cup win against Clermont Auvergne back in January and then, just a few weeks ago, he started the scoring in the win at Leicester.

It was Saints' first success at Welford Road since 2007 and how apt it was that Foden should score there.

He has been part of so many squads that have close to taming the old enemy on their own turf.

But this time he would not be denied.

There is no doubt that Foden still has plenty to offer and he will offer that to another club next season.

But he will always be a Saint and he will live long in the memory of all those who have watched him, played alongside him and, in particular, played against him over the years.