Van der Gouw: Treble spirit still going strong
Today (March 24) is former Manchester United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw's 57th birthday, and the Dutchman has spoken to us exclusively for a new edition of our long-read series UTD Unscripted.
In the piece, which goes out in full this Saturday, Raimond reveals the remarkable story of his journey to United and his dramatic first meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson, which began his six-year association with the club.
He also tells a remarkable personal tale that evokes the spirit of the wider United family, which came to his family's aid in desperate circumstances just months after he had joined the club.
And van der Gouw says that, if any onlookers from outside the club want to get an insight into the kind of togetherness and bond that both players and staff shared during his period in M16, they only need to refer to last summer's Treble Reunion match.
Raimond walks out at Old Trafford alongside Denis Irwin (left) and Jaap Stam (right) for the Treble Reunion match.
"I think, if you look at the Treble Reunion game we had against Bayern Munich’s Legends last summer, you can see everything you need to know about that era at Old Trafford," explained the goalkeeper.
“It was 20 years after we won the Treble but, if you look at the game, how we played, how the players were, it’s still the same. The same clique. The same group. We’re just 20 years older.
“When we all came back, everyone had a big smile on their face. You’re talking about things that happened in the past, and all the stories come out that are so good, so nice to relive. You can see that everybody really appreciated that we were all together, that it was a really special occasion, and everybody made the effort to be there.
"I’ve played quite a few Legends games in the past, but at this one, even David Beckham was there. I had a feeling that David enjoyed it as well! He was looking for a goal, searching for it, fighting for it, and he was so happy when he finally got it."
Van der Gouw played eight games in the 1998/99 season, keeping three clean sheets, and left the club in 2002 to join West Ham after making 60 appearances across six seasons.
"Every part of that game – playing, spending time with the boys and the staff, interacting with the fans – was just amazing," he reflects.
"I loved being a part of it. It took me right back to the season that was probably the highlight of my six years at United; a period which was one of the best times of my life."
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.