award. I still speak to a lot of people. I saw Anders Lindegaard in Amsterdam two weeks ago. I’ve been back to Carrington once and was at both legs of the Ajax-United tie. United were a big part of my life for six years, it was a great time for me and my family, so it’s not just something you leave behind straight away. We’ve still got loads of friends over in Manchester, so it was good to be back.
How did you come to join Ajax?
I was 18 and still playing for my local club in the village I live in now. Louis van Gaal was one of the junior team coaches at Ajax and he was playing cards with the coach of my team, and my coach told Louis that he had a very good goalkeeper who he might want to have a look at. I think Louis watched one game and I was invited for some training sessions with Ajax. I played one game and signed a professional contract as their third goalkeeper. I was 19 at the time so I was quite late. I was never a big talent who everybody expected to make a big career.
You made up for it at the other end of your career…
Yeah, I went on until I was 40. I had to make it a little bit longer because I missed three or four years that Giggsy had when I was in my teens!
What similarities are there between Ajax and United as clubs?
It’s the implementation of young players that you have educated, nurtured and brought through. At Ajax it happens quicker because the league isn’t as strong. At United you look at Danny Welbeck or Tom Cleverley, those guys have been at the club for a long time – Danny played his first game over three years ago – and have been loaned out to lower league teams, come back to United, gone on loan to Premier League teams for a year and then they have gained enough experience to try to win