An intelligent, polite and well presented man, the ‘Ice Rabbit’ was an incredibly talented goalkeeper who will be remembered for his calm assurance which led us to so many great victories.
Boasting an unrivalled CV, the big Dutchman endeared himself to many fans all over the world, with his humility on and off the field. A proud family man, he was worried that his autobiography wouldn’t work because he’s “not very rock ‘n’ roll.”
Commanding respect wherever he has gone, Edwin was destined for greatness from when he was adored by the Ajax faithful, in 1990. After an impressive 9 year spell at the Dutch club, Edwin was tipped as a replacement for the outgoing Peter Schmeichel in 1999 but the club chairman, Martin Edwards, rejected the transfer having already signed a young Roy Carroll.
Instead signing for Italian giants, Juventus, the Dutchman endured an ill-fated spell where his sweeper role was under appreciated and even mocked in the backward thinking Seria A. Having then been replaced by world-record signing Gianligu Buffon, Edwin cut short his time in Italy and moved to Fulham, having been rejected by Arsene Wenger.
After a successful spell with Fulham, Van Der Sar finally joined United, for £2 million, hoping to fill the void that was still left from Schmeichel’s departure in 1999. Under-estimated during his time at Fulham, some people wondered whether the 35-year old Dutchman had it in him to succeed at a big club.
Making his debut in 2005, it was obvious to see that Van Der Sar had the temperament for the big stage. Sat behind the back four, the Dutchman’s composure immediately had a calming effect on the whole team. Monitoring the match, and constantly re-assessing the situation, Edwin worked tirelessly controlling his defenders, like a Chess Grand Champion – snuffing out danger before it even arose.
Moulded by Louis Van Gaal, at Ajax, into a total footballer – a goal keeper with the feet of an outfield player – Edwin’s ability with the ball at his feet was a key aspect of United’s success during his time here. Acting as an 11th outfield player, the Dutchman was the ultimate sweeper. Famously Holland’s highest scorer during their World Cup training camp, Edwin’s assurance on the ball was unbelievable – and a great asset to the team.
Keeping a clean sheet for 1,302 consecutive minutes, during the 08/09 season, Edwin set a Premier League and world record that is unlikely to ever be surpassed. At 6ft 6″ tall, Edwin was an imposing figure in between the sticks, who could reach any area of the goal, if needed, thanks to his athletic build.
Twice persuaded out of retirement despite the serious illness of his wife, Edwin has shown fantastic loyalty to United and has never let the side down on the big stage – quite the opposite. The man of the moment in Moscow, in 2008, every fan will remember his man of the match performance, which culminated in his infamous penalty save from Nicolas Anelka.
Van Der Sar Celebrates in Moscow…
The first keeper to keep 50 clean sheets in the CL League, the record caps holder for Holland and the oldest person to win the Premier League – Van Der Sar is an extraordinary athlete. Like a fine wine, Van Der Sar’s abilities only got better with time; allowing him to bow out at the top of his game, at 40 years old, in Europe’s premier club match, the Champions League Final.
Although his farewell appearance didn’t quite go to plan, United fans will always hold a special place for Edwin in their hearts, after the service he gave to the club. A modest, humble and funny human being, Edwin is the perfect template for any keeper that wants to follow in his path. Here’s to Edwin; definitely one of the best, if not the best, #1 United have ever had.
Edwin Van Der Sar Debut: 9th Aug 2005 v Debreceni VSC (H) Last Match: 29th May 2011 v Barcelona (N) Appearances: 266
Premier League: 06/07, 07/08, 08/09, 10/11 Community Shield: 08, 09, 10 League Cup: 05/06 FIFA Club World Cup: 08 UEFA Champions League: 07/08
About Steve Williams.
A massive Manchester United fan, Steve is a relative newcomer to the blogging world but a longstanding reader. Having played in Premier League Academies himself, Steven takes a keen interest in youth/reserve football at Manchester United away from the first team.