FRASER FORSTER has just made the biggest decision of his professional life.
But, even more relieved than the 24-year-old that he has finally put his name to a four-year contract at Celtic will be manager Neil Lennon.
The Parkhead boss has pursued Forster almost from the moment he took over from Tony Mowbray two years ago – and has actually signed the Hexham-born giant shot- stopper three times.
The two loan deals from parent club Newcastle provided neither the player, nor the Celtic boss, with the security they sought.
In both previous summers, Forster did not join up with his team-mates until the season had kicked off.
But, this time, it has been third time lucky, and Lennon has got his man in plenty time to let the keeper settle in and take his place at the heart of the pre-season preparations which began yesterday, and will step up a gear when the squad heads to Germany on Sunday.
Former Celtic keeper Pat Bonner appreciates how relieved Forster – who had previously spent time on loan at Norwich, Stockport and Bristol Rovers – will be to have his future determined.
More importantly, the former Republic of Ireland international understands that knowing the manager was doing everything in his power to get you on board will be a huge filip for Forster's confidence.
Bonner said: "When you have a manager who makes it very clear he really wants you as his No.1, it gives you real peace of mind.
"If you go to another club, or if the manager at the club where you already are is replaced, you are never sure how you are regarded and that can affect you. Neil has now gone out and got Fraser three times, and that must help his confidence.
"But, Fraser will know he still has to perform every week and maintain the standard which has convinced Neil to sign him."
Bonner has watched the long-running signing saga play out since a £2million transfer fee was agreed with Newcastle as part of the loan arrangement concluded last August.
Personal terms and length of the contract held up the completion of the permanent move, and Bonner said: "It's good news for everyone that, at last, the deal is done. Last season, I saw quite a bit of Fraser, and his performances showed a lot of improvement, more than in his first year at Parkhead.
"You have to remember that he is still a young man, especially in terms of goalkeepers, and that playing for a club like Celtic is completely different to anything else he would have experienced.
"You can go so long in games with little to do so you have to develop your concentration and focus, and that comes with experience."
Bonner has also been impressed by the improvement in other areas of Forster's game, especially his movement across the ground.
He said: "He is such a big guy that they have had to work with him in different ways. A lot was made of Fraser's ability to deal with the ball when it came to his feet. But, to me, the issue was more about his quickness around the box, which he has improved."
Bonner believes Forster has much more potential to explore before he comes anywhere near reaching his peak.
And one of the areas he reckons is already being intensively worked on concerns the keeper's decision-making at cross balls.
"When you are so tall, it looks as though you might not need to jump," said the man who worked with the Republic's national squad. "But, it's about taking the ball at its highest point, and, again that comes down to movement.
"Fraser's reading of the game has certainly improved, and this helps him to come out when the ball is played through."
However, Bonner knows only too well that it is saves for which keepers are remembered. And Forster won over an army of doubters when he dived low to block a penalty from Eggert Jonsson when Hearts threatened to take a point at Parkhead in a tense SPL game in December.
"There's no doubt big saves in key games can spur you on," said Bonner. "They give you that extra bit of confidence, and you could see that in Fraser's performances.
"You have to remember he had also been playing behind a back four which changed an awful lot, and this does not help the confidence of any keeper.
"When the defence settled down, it helped him. But, for me, the big moment was when he played so well against Udinese in Italy.
"I watched that game while I was on holiday, and, even on TV, you could see how much it meant to him to play so well against a quality side like that.
"That performance helped to win over the supporters as well. As a Celtic keeper, you don't always get a lot to do.
"So, if you make the odd mistake, you might have to wait a long time to make amends.
"And, there is no doubt, Europe is where you are judged. If you can play well at that level, every-one in the team gains confidence from it."
Bonner believes Europe can also be used as a platform to propel players into the realms of international football.
And the man who won 80 caps for the Republic of Ireland during his 20 years at Parkhead is confident such a trajectory can be plotted for Forster, if his development continues on this upward curve.
Breaking into the England squad has always been an ambition of the big man.
But, for even longer, it is has also been notoriously difficult for players to attract even a passing glance from the managers charged with selecting the men to wear three lions on their chest.
Bonner would be more than happy to provide a ringing endorsement, should he ever be asked if Forster is good enough to join Joe Hart in the England squad.
He said: "I know a lot of people said that Fraser had to leave Celtic to get his chance at international level. But I never felt that was the case.
"Playing in Europe – especially if it is the Champions League – is a big opportunity to show what you can do.
"And, if Fraser can play well in Europe, I really believe there is no reason why he can't break into the England squad.
"Joe Hart is their current No.1 and is still young. But there are other places in the squad, so there is no reason why, if Fraser continues to develop, he can't get one of them."