Belfast Telegraph

Moscow shoot-out is highlight of van der Sar's Manchester United career

Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is delighted that his Champions League-winning penalty shoot-out save against Chelsea is set to be the signature moment of his career.

The veteran Dutchman has confirmed that he will quit at the end of the season, ending a remarkable two decades at the top of the game.

He will go down alongside Peter Schmeichel as one of Manchester United's greatest goalkeepers, having helped the Old Trafford outfit secure a hat-trick of Premier League titles.

However, his greatest moment for the Red Devils to date was surely the spot-kick save from Nicolas Anelka in Moscow in 2008 that confirmed United as Champions League winners.

“That save in Moscow is a nice moment to look back on,” he said.

“It is easier for strikers to be the hero. A goalkeeper might make an excellent save but if a forward scores in the last minute, the headlines are all for him.

“That is fair. They are there to score the goals. But Moscow was a very special moment, which will stay with me for a long time.”

Van der Sar admitted he had been contemplating retirement for four years, which was when his original two-year contract was due to end.

As he was 34 when he left Craven Cottage, the former Champions League winner with Ajax could scarcely have imagined he would enjoy so much success at Old Trafford, having been missed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 1999 when he joined Juventus instead of replacing Schmeichel.

“I didn't imagine this would happen,” he admitted.

“When I signed for United I was happy just to have one more big shot at winning a league.

“Luckily we managed to do that a couple of times and we are not finished yet. There is still room for improvement.”

That professionalism will surge through Van der Sar's veins until he plays his final game at some point in May.

Although he will only complete six seasons at United, his feats will be remembered well into the future.

Indeed, the comparisons between Van der Sar and Schmeichel are so obvious they cannot be avoided.

Ferguson said: “In my time those two were the outstanding goalkeepers, not just at our club, but in their entire careers.

“Look at the rich career that Edwin had; four Champions League finals, three World Cups.

“It was fantastic and Peter, of course, was recognised by everyone at the time as the best goalkeeper in the world.

“They are different personalities. But they are great characters and I have been very fortunate to have the two of them.”

Ten goalkeepers tried and failed to fill the great Dane's enormous gloves.

Germany's Manuel Neuer, Maarten Stekelenburg of Holland, France's Hugo Lloris and current Russia number one Igor Akinfeev are just four of the many names being mentioned amid the speculation about potential successors.

“We hope we are better organised about it this time,” said Ferguson.

However, Anders Lindegaard may get his first opportunity to stake a claim in today's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Southampton.

The Dane is yet to play a competitive game for United since his transfer window arrival from Aalesunds but with Van der Sar sitting out the trip to the south coast in order to be fresh for Tuesday's Premier League encounter with Aston Villa, Lindegaard is favoured to make his debut.

Belfast Telegraph


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