He may be in the twilight of his career, but Edwin van der Sar’s desire to maintain his unwavering high standards is burning as bright as ever.
In just over three seasons at Old Trafford, the veteran goalkeeper, who turned 38 on Wednesday, has added four major trophies to his already bulging collection. And, as he tells United Review, the Dutchman says he is hungry for more…
Has coming to Old Trafford worked out as well as you anticipated or even better?
You know when you come to a club like this that you’ll be challenging for trophies and we’ve been lucky enough to win a few in the last few years. Winning two titles was fantastic and then we had the nice little bonus of the Champions League. It’s such a hard trophy to win, but we’ve added more quality to the squad and hopefully we can go all the way again.
Where does that night in Moscow last May rate in your career achievements?
It was a great night. The first time I won it [with Ajax] I was a young player in a team that was winning prizes left, right and centre and at the time you can’t see an end to it. But when you’re coming towards the end of your career you really cherish everything you win, especially the big ones. Of course, it’s the whole team that wins the trophy, but to be the one who stops the last ball, or in this case, saves the last penalty, is something you dream about.
Presumably you’ve watched that defining moment back a few times…
I haven’t actually! We arrived back late from Moscow the next day and the following morning I left for international duty with Holland. The first time I saw it was during the warm-up before the Juventus friendly [in August] on the big screens at Old Trafford. It was special to watch it with the fans and great to hear the cheers when my save came on.
How much have you enjoyed working alongside the club’s new goalkeeping coach Eric Steele and, even with all your vast experience, can you still learn new things?
I haven’t enjoyed it that much because he’s been working me very hard! He’s very experienced and as a group I think all the goalkeepers are working really well with him. Whenever someone new comes in they bring new ideas and different views, but from my point of view it’s more about maintaining my fitness and my form - Eric’s not going to make big strides in terms of making me a better goalkeeper.