UEFA Champions League Great - Edwin Van der Sar

reuters

Gareth Messenger

In UEFA Champions League history, only a select few can say they have won the competition with multiple clubs. 13 to be precise. The first to achieve the feat was Marcel Desailly in 92/93 and 93/94 with Marseille and AC Milan respectively. 

For Edwin Van der Sar he wrote his name into Champions League folklore on two occasions, 13 years apart. 

Do you remember the Golden Generation at Ajax? Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Frank de Boer, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen. What a team, and deserved winners of Europe’s premier club competition back in 1995. 

But while our mouths may water over an unbeaten group stage campaign or their 5-2 drubbing of Bayern Munich in the semi-finals, I prefer to look at the not so obvious. 

Edwin Van der Sar was a relative unknown when the 1995 final took place in Vienna on May 24th. Hardly surprising when a fresh-faced 24-year-old was still waiting for a first international cap. 

For all the attacking flair on show, Van der Sar’s contribution to Ajax’s 1995 success is there for everybody to see. Throughout that campaign, the now-Ajax chief executive kept a staggering EIGHT clean sheets in 11 appearances. Think about that… An entire European run where eight matches are shut outs, and you concede just four goals in total.

Fast forward to 2008, van der Sar will be remembered as one of Manchester United's best goalkeepers. The Dutch stopper proved a worthy replacement for Schmeichel at Old Trafford when he arrived at the club from Fulham.

Van der Sar saved the penalty which won United the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow against Chelsea.

The Dutchman correctly guessed that Nicolas Anelka would kick to his right during the penalty shoot-out, and stopped his effort to win United the European Cup for the third time in their history.

Despite being a winner 25 years ago, the one that stands out for van der Sar, who said in an interview two years ago, is the moment in Moscow. 

“I feel like I was separated from the world for a couple of seconds. I don’t think I’ll ever experience a more ecstatic moment than when I realised, we’d just won the Champions League final and noticed all my team-mates running towards me. It was the highlight of my whole career.”

13 years apart between European glory for van der Sar makes him one of 13 on the illustrious list of winners with multiple clubs, but he stands alone, as the only goalkeeper in history.