Edwin van de Sar – ‘I’m just not very rock n’ roll’


Van de Sar – a large, athletic, yet slender goalkeeper who excelled at coming off his line to handle crosses due to his height and physique, Van der Sar was regarded as one of the greatest and most complete keepers in football history.

An intelligent goalkeeper, in addition to his reflexes, excellent positional sense, and shot-stopping abilities, he was also known for his calm composure, longevity, and his ability to organise his defence.

Throughout his career, especially while playing for Ajax, he occasionally served as a “sweeper-keeper” because of his skill with the ball and ability to sprint off his line.

He was most recently the chief executive of AFC Ajax, where he started his senior playing career in the early 1990s. He is regarded as a member of the club’s golden generation and was a member of the Ajax team that won the UEFA Champions League in 1995. He is a former Dutch football executive and professional player.

A loyalist

He was a custodian who left Ajax in 1999 for Juventus, where he played for two years before making two moves to England, first to Fulham and then to Manchester United in 2005.

He was one of just eight players at the time to have won the competition with more than one club when he won his second Champions League championship there in 2008.

He ended his career as a professional in 2011, but in 2016, he briefly came out of retirement to participate in a game for the amateur Dutch team VV Noordwijk, for which he had previously played.

He made 130 appearances for the Netherlands national team and held the record for most appearances until Wesley Sneijder passed him in 2017.

A glory-hog

His pantheon of titles is never-ending.

Van de Sar is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time by critics and other athletes.

Ajax and Manchester United were primarily where he won 26 major trophies during his career, making him one of the most accomplished footballers ever. He established a record by going 1,311 minutes without giving up a league goal in the 2008–09 season.

He was 40 years and 205 days old when he won the Premier League in 2011, making him the oldest player to accomplish it. Van der Sar has earned numerous individual honours, including UEFA Club Keeper of the Year in 2009 and Best European Keeper in 1995 and 2009.

Growing up

Van der Sar, a Voorhout native, started his professional career at Foreholte before moving on to VV Noordwijk.

Not much is known of his parents. Not much is known of childhood experience and growing up. This is quite weird given his global status and accomplishments.

This is juxtaposed with the idea that he might just have been humble enough to avoid letting media dig into his personal life – to protect his loved ones.

All is known is that his parents celebrated their 50th anniversary three years ago and Edwin is the talent of his siblings. Hardly surprising given what he has gone on to achieve.

Van der Sar also has a sister and a brother, who they claim are both slightly more attractive than he is, but we don’t know anything else about them, not even their names or ages.


He was introduced to Louis van Gaal at a somewhat late age, and he later signed for Ajax.

Despite arriving late, he joined the reserve squad and bided his time before Louis van Gaal called him up to the first team.

He had a long and fruitful run with their senior team, winning domestic titles in addition to the 1991–92 UEFA Cup, the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League, and the 1995 Best European Keeper award (although only as the reserve keeper, making no appearances during the run).

He was the custodian for Ajax in the 1996 UEFA Champions League Final, but they were defeated by Juventus on penalties, thus he had to settle for a second-place trophy.

He also played in 226 games for Ajax in all, and in the 1997–98 season, he converted a penalty to give Ajax an 8–1 win over De Graafschap.

Fully and deservedly earned the Dutch Football Keeper of the Year award in his first full season as Ajax No.1 and went on to hold the title for the following three years.

Stats corner

Why not bring numbers into this? Well, he is a keeper…

Van der Sar also managed to accumulate 365 clean sheets throughout his career, giving him a clean-sheets-collected-to-appearance ratio of 0.44.

This indicates that he averaged slightly more than 3 clean sheets (exactly 3.08) for every 7 appearances he made throughout his career.

Throughout his career, Van der Sar was substituted in three times, taken off the pitch nine times, and received 19 yellow cards and two second yellow cards.

In terms of Edwin van der Sar’s international statistics, we should note that between 1995 and 2008, the legendary Dutch custodian made 130 appearances for his nation’s national team; this mark wasn’t surpassed until 2017 by Wesley Sneijder, who earned a total of 134 caps just two years before he announced his retirement from professional football in 2019.

Van der Sar also scored a goal in his career, which deserves to be included here.

The goal, which he really scored from the penalty spot in a match against the Dutch team De Graafschap in the 1997–98 season, resulted in Ajax’s 8–1 triumph.


His reputation as one of Europe’s premier goalkeepers attracted Manchester United’s interest in 1999 as they looked for a replacement for Peter Schmeichel.

However, Van der Sar transferred to Italian club Juventus for a sum rumoured to be in the neighbourhood of £5 million.

He made his Old Lady debut in the Stadio delle Alpi’s 1-1 tie with Reggina.

He was the first non-Italian to serve as the Turin club’s custodian.

During his first two seasons in Italy, he was the starting custodian and made 66 Serie A games as Juventus finished second in the league twice under Carlo Ancelotti, each time with the best defensive record in the league.

He had a successful debut season, helping the team contend for the Serie A championship and taking home the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

However, on the last day of the 1999–2000 campaign, Lazio overtook Juventus and won the league title by one point after Juventus lost to Perugia Calcio after Van der Sar was defeated by Alessandro Calori’s volley.

The following season was less fruitful for Juventus as they were eliminated in the first round of both the Coppa Italia and the Champions League due to Van der Sar making numerous mistakes, including a notable one in a league match at home against eventual Serie A champions Roma on May 6, 2001, when he spilled Hidetoshi Nakata’s shot, allowing Vincenzo Montella to tie the game 2-2; Juventus ultimately finished two points behind the league champions.

After the Bianconeri acquired Gianluigi Buffon from Parma for 100 billion lire (about £32.6 million), a record price for a custodian, van der Sar lost his position in the summer of 2001.

After two seasons in Serie A, Van der Sar made it obvious that he did not want to continue playing as Buffon’s backup.

Time for a switch up.


Van der Sar pulled the trigger and decided to play in England on August 1 and made a shocking £7 million move to join freshly promoted Fulham.

He signed a four-year contract for the Premier League.

Van der Sar was formally introduced by Fulham the following day, and upon his arrival, he noted that it was a “nice friendly atmosphere” and that he felt “appreciated”.

On August 18, 2001, he made his league debut in a 2-3 road loss to Manchester United.

He made 127 league appearances in all for Fulham. In his final season at the club, he saved two penalties from Juan Pablo Angel in a game against Aston Villa, resulting in a 1-1 draw.

Manchester United and other teams were drawn to his efforts for the Cottagers. Did he know, at that point he would go on to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world?

Manchester United

On June 10, 2005, Van der Sar joined Manchester United for an undisclosed amount, however it was rumoured to be £1.4 million.

Van der Sar produced numerous standout performances in the 2007–08 season, his finest since arriving, despite persistent groin pain.

By stopping Nicolas Anelka’s final penalty attempt in the shootout, he helped United win the Champions League and their second consecutive Premier League championship on the final day.

On February 26, 2010, Van der Sar agreed to a one-year extension to his existing deal with Manchester United, keeping him with the team at least until the 2010–11 campaign. A wise move to make the most of Fergie’s last few years in charge retrospectively.

Van der Sar would retire at the conclusion of the 2010–11 Premier League season, Sir Alex Ferguson stated, according to a source in the British press on December 23, 2010. Although he dismissed the rumours at the time, Van der Sar acknowledged his intention on January 27, 2011.

Van der Sar made numerous outstanding saves against Arsenal in the FA Cup on March 12, earning him the title of Man of the Match.

Wayne Rooney and Fábio scored goals for United in a 2-0 victory.

He was also a member of the PFA Team of the Year, where he had previously appeared in 2007 and 2008.


He played in his final match at Old Trafford on May 22, 2011, when Manchester United defeated Blackpool 4-2 to send Blackpool to the Championship.

As a farewell gift, he was made captain of Manchester United. Dino Zoff currently holds the record for the oldest male player to appear in a European Cup final, having played in the 1983 European Cup Final at the age of 41 years, 86 days.

His final match for United was against Barcelona in the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final on May 28, which United lost 3-1.

Van der Sar ended his playing career after the game.

To end, here is one of van der Sar’s finest moments in an interview.

“I share a special bond with Ajax. I think we are a special club. And we’re known for our philosophy around the world.”