2014 FIFA World Cup™
Van Der Sar: Brazil defeat my World Cup highlight
23 May 2014
Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of recent times, Edwin van Der Sar has left an indelible mark on the game – particularly with some stellar displays at club level.
The Dutchman's list of honours is enviable, comprising as it does a FIFA Club World Cup, Intercontinental Cup, two UEFA Champions League titles - with Ajax and Manchester United - and eight league titles. He defended the goals of Juventus and Fulham between the former pair, while claiming a record 130 caps for his country.
FIFA.com spoke to him on finals, penalties, breaking records and his hopes for the Netherlands at Brazil 2014.
FIFA.com: Edwin, what is your most memorable moment from your club career? Edwin van Der Sar: Normally you would say it was with the club who gave you your start in your football career. I had a great time at Ajax, we were with a lot of young players, and I think in the mid-90's we really challenged the European elites and we won the Champions League in 1995. But I think my moment of glory that sticks with me was in 2008 with Manchester United. Winning the Champions League in Moscow after penalties, saving the last penalty and knowing that the game's over, and knowing that all the focus is on you for those three or four seconds and it was just an amazing experience.
You hold a number of records, including most caps for the Netherlands and Manchester United's oldest player since World War Two. Do you miss breaking records now you've retired?
Of course you miss football, you miss playing, you miss the fun in the dressing room. I'm a marketing director now at Ajax, so I'm still working in football but in completely different surroundings. I can tell you that's much harder work, but it's certainly fulfilling also, because we are trying to establish something at Ajax with our famous academy. We always thrive on our young players coming into the first team and we really try to challenge European clubs who maybe have a bigger financial backing than us. It's a great opportunity for me to learn a lot about myself and invest in different things from my playing career.
You won the Champions League in 2008 on penalties, but a decade earlier you lost in a shootout to Brazil at France 1998. Does that still sting?
Winning is the key in football, and with the national team I have reached some semi-finals and most of them I have lost on penalties. We never could take the last hurdle to get to the final in my era, though four years ago in South Africa the Dutch team was in the final, but unfortunately we lost again. That's three finals in a row that we have lost, which is not a good omen. Of course it's disappointing, but that game against Brazil was the highlight of my World Cup career. The atmosphere before the game, where one side was orange, other side was yellow and blue from Brazil, the sky was light blue and then turned to night where the lights came on. It was such a hectic and tense match, where it went to overtime and then to penalties. It's nerve-wracking but it's also quite rewarding that you were able to achieve something like that and to participate in a World Cup.
How are you feeling ahead of Brazil 2014, do you think the current Dutch side have what it takes to impress there?
We are in a little bit more of a difficult time now, we don't have the ten or eleven world class players in our team – we have maybe three or four and they are getting older. So it's about time that the young Dutch generation pick up the laurels from the older ones and hopefully can achieve, first with their clubs and then the national team, a little more success than over the last three or four years. No, three years, as four years ago we were in the final!
One position you will no doubt be particularly interested in is the goalkeeper. Who would you have as your number one?
I think Jasper Cillessen. He plays for Ajax and came into the team this year and has played three or four times for the national team. He's looked good as a young goalkeeper, he's very good with his feet, that's something that Ajax and the Dutch team need as we always try to involve the goalkeeper in keeping possession. He has the ability, I think, to retain the position for the World Cup finals. He plays for my club, so of course I hope that, but any other one will do also as long as he keeps clean sheets throughout the tournament, that would be great.