Edwin van der Sar admits he had fleeting second thoughts about retirement but the Manchester United goalkeeper remains firmly focused on ending his career with victory against Barcelona.
The 40-year-old Dutchman will bring the curtain down on more than two decades of goalkeeping excellence at Wembley on Saturday, where he will be attempting to become the oldest ever winner of the UEFA Champions League. After six seasons at Old Trafford, many admirers are convinced the 6ft 5in shot-stopper would easily be able to continue for another year, but Van der Sar is convinced he has picked the perfect time to bow out.
"Everybody wants to try to be a professional football player," Van der Sar said. "Not many people reach it so when you come to that level and are able to play for such a long time, to finish your career like this is magnificent."
Having already played in four previous Champions League finals - winning twice before with Ajax in 1995 and United in 2008 - Van der Sar is used to the pressure surrounding European football's showpiece fixture. "You're tense because you're playing a big final," Van der Sar said. "You need a certain tension to play the game.
"If you're too laid back you're not able to react to what you want to do. So it'll be a little more than a normal game. And we're gonna have to make sure we win it."
'95 win a different world
Van der Sar made sure of his place in the pantheon of Manchester United greats three years ago, when his save from Nicolas Anelka in a penalty shoot-out clinched a Champions League victory over Chelsea. While Van der Sar singles out that match as his career highlight, winning with Ajax for the first time 16 years ago is a close second, even if he does struggle to recognise the era.
"I'm working on my biography in Holland at the moment. You speak about some things, and you see some pictures and think, 'Wow, honestly that's a lifetime ago,'" Van der Sar said. "Without mobile phones, Internet, those types of things. It's been a long road but very enjoyable."
Van der Sar admitted he had become almost blase about playing in the final of the Champions League after reaching back-to-back finals with Ajax in the mid-90s, where he was part of a legendary side which included the likes of Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert. "When you win the first one that's great and the second year we reached the final and lost it against Juventus," Van der Sar said.
"The third year we got to the semi-final so you sort of expect and think that every year you're going to play the final. But at a certain point it stops and it took a long time to get back again to that experience, playing those kinds of games."
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who would have signed Van der Sar earlier in his career given the chance, believes the Dutchman has picked the right time to leave. "He's at the absolute pinnacle of his career," Ferguson said. "He deserves to go out at the very, very top.
"Because he's had a career that's been absolutely fantastic. Not just what he does on the football field but how he's been as a professional, and as a human being."