Edwin Van der Sar has been centre of attention over the past few months, following his great record in goal. It’s hard to believe that before Wednesday night, the last time we conceded in the league was our 2-1 defeat at the Emirates, which feels like forever ago.
He has today spoken about the impact Sir Alex Ferguson has had on his career, claiming he would have retired by now if not given the opportunity to play for United, as well as reflecting on that night in Moscow.
“If I had stayed at Fulham I would have quit the game by now,” said Van der Sar. “After my third and fourth year there, I thought my chance of playing for a big club again had gone. I went to Fulham for the project they explained to me — but it didn’t really work out. I might have been playing at a high level for the national team but I was starting to miss those European nights and challenging for titles. At certain times you start to — maybe not lose the faith — but just wonder how long it will take until someone picks me up. I was thinking, ‘Is it just me? Do I think I’m better than any manager does? Do they think I am just too old or not good enough?’ But Alex Ferguson bought me and I have to admit, if I had not been at Manchester United, I’d have stopped playing by now.”
Van der Sar got his moment in the limelight after making his presence felt between the posts on Moscow. He knew which way Nicolas Anelka was going to strike the penalty but pointed to the other corner anyway, daring the Frenchman to change his side. Anelka didn’t dare though and Edwin palmed the ball away, winning Manchester United the European Cup.
“One thing I always wanted was to make a particular save that you would always be remembered for,” he added. “Stopping what proved to be the last penalty in a Champions League final is that moment — something you will cherish for the rest of your life, because you know how important that was for the players, the club and yourself.”