Goalkeepers who can handle ball at their feet are an Ajax trademark. ‘Build up from behind’ was the plan, according to his biographer Jaap Visser, when Edwin van der Sar arrived at Juventus in 1999. That idea did not last for long. ‘In his very first match, Van der Sar played the ball into central defender Ciro Ferrara, who immediately kicked it into the stands although there wasn’t any pressure from the opponent’, biographer Jaap Visser told the Belgian newspaper De Morgen in 2011. ‘Than he cursed out Van der Sar for what het had done.’ Actually, Van der Sar might have known right from the start that this a goalkeeper that builds up would not be a topproiority at Juventus.
At the beginning of his period in the Serie A, Van der Sar made a stupid mistake, that earned him one of his many nicknames: ‘The Man with Butter on His Hands.’
‘If you substitute me now, I will understand’
‘I lacked self-confidence in that bad period’, Van der Sar explains in Jaap Visser’s biography. ‘I lacked the belief that I would do well. We played against Lazio at home and I made a terribl emistake, when Salas shot straight at me. At half time I said to Ancelotti: If you substitute me now, I understand. It’s been the only time during my career that I’ve shown my insecurity. ‘
Hard work turnes Van der Sar into a great goalkeeper. “I was a talent, not a super talent,” he said in an interview with NRC Handelsblad in 2011. In 2005, he finally ended up at a British top club via the Fulham: Manchester United The highlight of Van der Sar’s career was stopping the decisive penalty kick in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea.
Manchester United fhass fallen behind in the penalty shootout due to a Ronaldo miss, but John Terry slips when he has a chance to score the winning goal. Van der Sar is lucky: The ball hits the outside of the post, while he has allready moved to the other corner. Ultimately, the Dutch goalkeeper stops Anelka’s penalty kick. ‘F** hell’ is the only thing he can respond to a reporter who tries to do an interview with him after the finale.
It is the second time that van der Sar wins the Champions League. His previous victory with Ajax against AC Milan in 1995 was the first. In some way it also is a revenge for the lost final with Ajax against Juventus, in which a clumsy misunderstanding with Sonny Silooy gives Jugovic a chance to score the 1-0 in the 13th minute. Jari Litmanen equalizes, but in the final penalty shootout Ajax loses to Juventus.