Van der Sar: I came close to signing for Liverpool instead of Juventus in 1999
The Dutch keeper won eight major honours during six seasons at Old Trafford, including four Premier League titles, the Champions League and Club World Cup.
Before putting pen to paper with Juventus in 1999, though, Van der Sar has revealed he had the chance to move to England with Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool.
“When I left Ajax in 1999, I travelled to Liverpool and spoke to Houllier,” the 46-year-old says in the November 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out now.
I was shown around Anfield, met the chairman and a couple of players. I thought about it
“I was shown around Anfield and also met with the chairman and a couple of the players. I thought about it, but when Juventus came to the table I came to the conclusion that it would be a bigger challenge to play in Italy.”
After enjoying nine successful years at Ajax, where he is now the CEO, Van der Sar joined Juventus to become the first non-Italian goalkeeper to play for the Old Lady.
Gianluigi Buffon's arrival at the Stadio delle Alpi in 2001 forced him into making a surprise move to Premier League new boys Fulham, where he stayed for four years.
But Van der Sar explains that Alex Ferguson had been desperate to get his hands on the Netherlands international long before he agreed to sign for United in 2005.
I found out that Ferguson had always been really keen on signing me, but the chairman of United had a deal to sign Mark Bosnich on a free instead. So the idea had always been for me to succeed Peter Schmeichel, but it ended up taking six years longer than planned and they tried out other keepers in that period
"I found out that Ferguson had always been really keen on signing me," he says, "but the chairman of United had a deal to sign Mark Bosnich on a free instead.
"So the idea had always been for me to succeed Peter Schmeichel, but it ended up taking six years longer than planned and they tried out some other keepers in that period.
"I found out that United were going to sign me when I discovered a voicemail from Ferguson. That was a special day. That was the moment I thought: 'This is why I came over to London – to eventually make this next step forward.'
"Ferguson told me he needed someone who could lead and give guidance to the defence. He said he knew I wouldn't get flustered if the side was under pressure."
Words Joshua Jones; Interview Arthur Renard
Read the full interview with Edwin van der Sar in the November 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, which focuses on Zinedine Zidane's quest for domination after leading Real Madrid to back-to-back Champions League triumphs. Also this month, we go behind the scenes at the FIFA Interactive World Cup to find out just how serious video games have got, speak to Huddersfield manager David Wagner about the Terriers' miraculous return to the top flight and drinking games with his best bud Jurgen Klopp, learn about the evolution of fan tribes, visit Ireland to watch a Scottish Challenge Cup tie, hear from Kaka about why he turned down Manchester City in 2009, and get clued up about Expected Goals. Order a copy here, and then subscribe!