Imporable Edwin van der Sar, a great goalkeper and legend of Ajax and MU
Amsterdam Ajax goalkeeper Stanley Menzo was injured in one of the April days 1991. And when the reserve goalkeeper replaced him in the field it was difficult to keep from laughing. Twenty-year-old Edwin van der Sar, thin as a sleeper, with big ears, in short shorts and dressed in everything purple. In such a way he appeared in the field in front of the honorable audience. The young van der Sar could not know then he would win the Champions League with Ajax and Manchester United soon. Neither he knew he would also play under Sir Alex Ferguson’s command and become the champion of England. And today that wonderful football player turned 47 years old.
Edwin’s first steps in football
Edwin van der Sar looks like an ordinary Dutch village guy who chases the ball through the yard on windy Saturday nights. But Edwin did not dream in his childhood about professional football. Whatever happens, Ajax invited the young guy to play in a test match for the second club’s team in 1988. The stadium was almost empty, except for Edwin’s friends. They came to support him every match with a special poster: “Van der Sar in the national team!”. Van der Sar will set a record later, after 130 matches for the Dutch national team.
Van der Sar summoned to the national team duties
Soon it turned out Edwin was a goalkeeper the Oranges had been looking for since the late 60s. From the times Johannes Cruijff and Rinus Michels came up with “total football” term. Van der Sar was just such a missing link in that “total football”. He could become a professional fielder with his abilities and ideal pass. After all, Edwin played as a fielder at training camps with the national team in Florida during the World Championship in 1994. He looked like one of the best team’s players then. Cruijff called him “the best Ajax striker”.
Van der Sar became the Dutch national team first number at 24. And won the first and so far the last Champions League cup in 1995 along with such legends as Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids and Jari Litmanen.
Wind of change
Edwin thought and came to conclusion it was time for changes after all. So he decided to transfer to Juventus in 1999. The Edwin’s phone rang unexpectedly for everyone. It happened when van der Sar was already waiting in the airport for his flight to Turin to sign a contract. Alex Ferguson was on the other end, impressed by the Dutchman success. He decided to ask whether Edwin wanted to go to his team. The Red Devils won the Champions League that year.
The Dutchman transfer to Juventus
Unfortunately, van der Sar declined the Ferguson’s tempting offer. He referred to the fact he had already had an agreement with Juventus. United could not find a normal and really suitable goalkeeper for many years. And Sir Alex regretted he hadn’t called van der Sar the day before. Perhaps Edwin regretted it too. He lost his confidence for the only time in his career and almost always made the most serious mistakes in Juventus. The Juventus management decided to sell the Dutchman to Fulham as a punishment.
World Cup 2002
The Netherlands national team lost sensationally to the Ireland national team on September 1, 2001, and did not qualify for the 2002 World Cup. Van der Sar did what can be called the emotions show. He went to a small table on the field, raised his leg to do the final blow, but instead, lifted his leg a little higher and just kicked the plastic cup from that table. This was a real Edwin: a player with brilliant both legs.
The best world goalkeeper joined MU
It seemed, the Oranges goalkeeper’s best years are behind. But van der Sar did not give up and continued bending his line, by training hard and proving his relevance and tolerance. One of the best world goalkeepers has been playing in Fulham for 4 years. Nobody wanted too much from Edwin in England, as most coaches misinterpreted the goalkeepers’ role in the field. But everything cleared up in 2005. Ferguson still counted on van der Sar and the goalkeeper was really shocked by it. He was 34, far from optimal age for many players. He thought his career was gradually approaching the end.
Anyway, Edwin felt much more comfortable in Manchester United. Van der Sar managed to give a master class in conquering the trophies to other players almost at the end of his amazing career. He won the Premier League three times in a row. And afterwards made an incredible contribution and became a hero in the Moscow final against Chelsea, where he saved the decisive penalty.
An image of goalkeeper after 30 is set by Van der Sar
Van der Sar changed a traditional image of a successful goalkeeper after 30. The ideal player is an elderly, wise-headed head on young legs, and in particular this is true with goalkeepers. Joop Hiele, Edwin’s ex-coach, once said: “The goalkeeper’s job is to see the situation, recognize it correctly and make the right decision. The more often you do it, the easier it is for you to repeat it.”
Edwin could still probably continue playing, but the Dutchman’s career was influenced by family problems. In particular, his wife’s serious brain hemorrhage happened in 2009. Fortunately, she recovered, but she still needed constant treatment in the Netherlands. When somebody asked Edwin how he had taken final decision to leave, he replied: “Let’s just say, I’ve been thinking about this since the moment Anne-Mari suffered a blow.”
But he would still have done it sooner or later. “He was done with it by himself: it was pointless to pretend being a Superman in forty years,” said Sir Alex Ferguson. Edwin also received a word of praise from his team-mate Rio Ferdinand: “He changed my idea about the goalkeepers,” the former Manchester United defender said. “If I ever become a coach, I’ll want my goalkeeper to play like van der Sar”.
Van Der Sar – legend of Ajax and Manchester United
That was a career of the wonderful goalkeeper from the past, Edwin van der Sar. The player who was and remained Ajax and Manchester United legend and a caring husband and father. Edwin works in the Ajax board at the moment and has no plans to leave. It proves van der Sar has always been devoted to his club, and it brought him to the professional level.