Edwin van der Sar is undoubtedly one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time. His accomplishments with Louis van Gaal’s 90s Ajax side and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United has lifted him to the pantheon of the most successful custodians in the history of the sport. The towering Dutchman decided to hang his boots in 2011 after winning a total of eight league titles in England and Holland. He also won two Champions League trophies in addition to the multiple domestic cups and several individual accolades.
So how good was Edwin van der Sar? He holds various records for his longevity and is remembered for his cool and calm image in front of goal. Here are a few quotes from other players and managers on Van der Sar:
“He is not a normal keeper. The players in front of him always can have the thought: we still have Edwin. He has got so much talent and a strong character. Maybe he is the best goalkeeper United ever had, but we also had Schmeichel. But Van der Sar is unique.”
“Edwin is the best goalkeeper we have had since Peter Schmeichel. He is a winner. He has brought with him a strength of character; he really looks after himself and he trains very well. There are many players who, having achieved what he has done, want to take it easy. But he has a desire to carry on. Edwin’s professionalism and dedication to his job and the way he looks after himself has given him longevity in the game.”
“He is a winner. Even in training, he always played 100 per cent. When you deliver in England like he did, you will be received in the arms of the fans. I experienced that too. They really, really appreciate you when you are a professional. That’s something different than in Holland
– Dennis Bergkamp
“One of the very first to have brought a new perspective (on goalkeeping) was Edwin Van der Sar, who played a lot with his feet and allowed the position to enter a new phase. I was inspired by his style of play.”
— Manuel Neuer
“He has been a fantastic servant [ for the club ] I worked with Edwin for two and a half years. That penalty save in Moscow has elevated Edwin alongside Peter.”
— Eric Steele, former Manchester United goalkeeping coach
“Van der Sar was the best we’ve ever had. By far. We’ve very rarely seen him make a mistake in  years at the very top and in more than 100 caps. He was a jewel in soccer’s crown.”
— Hans van Breukelen, former Dutch goalkeeper.
“His playing ability has been proven at the highest level both domestically and internationally.”
— Jean Tigana
“The unique thing about Edwin is that he thinks always simple, it’s based on quality and serenity. In the dressing room he corrected something always very smoothly. He was much appreciated by all his colleagues
– Guus Hiddink
“Someone I always admired, even early in his career at Ajax and Juventus. In six years at Old Trafford, he helped Manchester United to three Champions League finals, and gave them great stability from the back.”
— Peter Schmeichel
“Edwin is a terrific goalkeeper and I learnt a lot. He put me on the bench for a long, long time and I don’t think there is any goalkeeper in the world who can put him on the bench. That’s why it is not a surprise I sit on the bench. I came to this club five years ago with big hope that I was going to get the chance and a chance to play regularly, but Edwin never gave up and he always played well.
– Tomasz Kuszczak, former Manchester United goalkeeper
“Edwin was a typical Dutch goalie; he was very strong, had good feet, was good on the ball, he always knew the solution and where to pass it.”
“Edwin is the best in the world and the biggest at United from my point of view. He has been an ambassador for United and for football and is a great character and it has been a great privilege to get to know him as a person.
– Anders Lindegaard
“Edwin has performed admirably for his club and country for such a long time and he seems to get better and stay at a very high level. That’s not easy to do in that position and at a club like Manchester United.”
— Tim Howard
“Over a shorter period for United Edwin Van der Sar’s level of performance has been sensational. Just as Peter was the foundation for the 90s side Edwin has been the bedrock of the team since 2005. Both have been equally outstanding and great goalkeepers to have behind you. A defender couldn’t ask for more.
“What’s needed to be a great keeper: shot stopping, presence, authority, organiser, good feet, mental strength, agility. There are more, but one thing Edwin had more than any keeper I ever played with was – calmness & composure. There was never any panic with him, he was never flustered. [He had] an aura of ‘l’ve been here before, just chill guys’ exuding off him. For a centre back to feel that from a keeper is a comforting thing to have. He was not the best around at some of the things I listed above but he was very good at many and outstanding in others. Great players to my mind make others play better and Edwin certainly done that. He was right footed but would put the ball on his left foot and pick people out as if he was bored and wanted to test himself (I used to laugh). Also when Manchester United needed him he was always there: big moments, one important save to make in the game etc he was there with no fuss! The triangle of Edwin, myself, and Vida will never be forgotten.”
— Rio Ferdinand
“He’s just cool under pressure – he never panicked, and I think that’s a big thing for when you are playing. He didn’t really say too much in the changing room – he got his points across by talking; he wasn’t a shouter and a bawler.”
— Rio Ferdinand
Founder and editor of Footiecentral. A voracious reader who loves reading anything and everything related to the history of football. He’s an ardent supporter of Manchester United and rarely misses a match.