From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.34 :: NO.33 :: Aug. 18, 2011
Edwin van der Sar... at his athletic best even in his testimonial game.
Edwin van der Sar celebrated his farewell from soccer with most of his teammates present.
The 40-year-old former goalkeeper had his testimonial in the Amsterdam Arena in front of 50,000 spectators. The evening started with a match between Ajax under-12 and Manchester United under-12. Van der Sar's son Joe was the goalkeeper of United and conceded two goals with the match ending at 2-2.
After that warm-up match Van der Sar entered the pitch to play with the Ajax Champions League winning team of 1995, coached by Louis van Gaal, against the Dutch World Cup semifinal team of 1998, coached by Guus Hiddink.
Almost all past stars, like Frank Rijkaard, Frank de Boer, Edgar Davids, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert, were present. Thanks to a beautiful strike by Marc Overmars, Ajax won the battle 1-0.
The action on the pitch ended with a match between Ajax and a dream team, consisting of among others Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Dirk Kuyt and also some more Dutch stars. Louis Saha gave the dream team the lead. After Rodney Sneijder hit the post and Derk Boerrigter equalised on behalf of Ajax, Dennis Bergkamp scored the match winner for the dream team.
Van der Sar's last act was stopping a penalty of his son Joe. “I want to thank everyone who made this possible, from the bottom of my heart,” he said afterwards.
Van der Sar made his debut for Ajax in the 1990/1991 season and played his last match for Manchester United on May 28 this year against FC Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final, which United lost 3-1. Besides Ajax and Manchester United, he played for Juventus and Fulham.
The Dutch record international with 130 caps won the Champions League and Intercontinental Cup with Ajax in 1995 and won the Champions League again with United in 2008.
Besides several other prizes, he captured the Premier League with United in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011.
In the post match press conference, Frank de Boer, Guus Hiddink, Alex Ferguson and Louis van Gaal paid tribute to Van der Sar. “A keeper of this quality deserves a farewell like this,” former teammate De Boer, the current Ajax coach, said.
“What we've seen here , says something about Van der Sar,” Van Gaal said. “I am pleased to have Edwin for six years,” Ferguson added. “He's always been very clean and was never afraid to speak things out,” Hiddink said.
“This was a great reunion,” Van der Sar concluded. “Only Jari Litmanen was in Finland and Clarence Seedorf had to be in China.”
His plans for the future are not totally clear. “I want to be more social, do things with my family, go on holidays, go skiing,” said Van der Sar. “I also agreed with Dutch television NOS that I am going to analyse the Champions League. I must find my way. We also have established a foundation and I'm inserting some time and energy in that.”
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