Manchester United great Edwin van der Sar has revealed that he could have joined the club six years before he finally did.
The former goalkeeper came through the ranks at the famed Ajax academy and won the Champions League with the club in 1995 but decided it was time to leave towards the end of the decade.
However, the move didn’t happen and he joined Italian giants Juventus instead. It wouldn’t be until 2005 when Van der Sar finally arrived at Old Trafford and became one of the club’s best-ever keeepers.
“I think there was a chance but I think United hesitated a little bit,” he told MUTV Group Chat. “I told Ajax I wanted to leave in ’99 and I visited a couple of European clubs.
“I was in Liverpool also, that was a rainy day so it was not that attractive! I was in Turin and I spoke to the coach and my agent and more or less we agreed then to join Juve. Then at the airport we got a call from United to ask if we wanted to come over and it was a little bit too late to be fair. In that situation I wanted to stick to the promises I’ve made. So I went to Juventus.
“It wasn’t the success that I expected so after two years I left and needed to find a new club and Fulham showed some interest. I had a fantastic four years at Fulham and I didn’t expect to stay so long. I was fortunate and happy but then I had a voicemail from Alex Ferguson asking me to give him a call back.”
Van der Sar went on to make 266 appearances for United and kept a staggering 139 clean sheets, not conceding in over half of his matches. The Dutchman has also taken the time to reflect on his time at the club.
“I have so many great memories from United,” he added. “We had a great defence but it was about the whole team. [Wayne] Rooney and [Cristiano] Ronaldo were developing, [Michael] Carrick was a stronghold, we had [Ryan] Giggs, Gary [Neville] and [Paul] Scholes, and for me it was a joy to play for the club.
”In certain games you didn’t have much to do but in that one moment when you need to be there, that’s when you need to be ready. As a team, we had the strength, the will, the power, the ambition of the club and it was easy to play with whoever was in front of me. It’s just been great to be part of the history of the club.”