One on One Ed­win Van Der Sar

WAS VA n GAAL AL WAYS SO BONKERS? WHY DID ARIEL ORTEGA HEAD­BUTT HIM? DOES HE STILL LAUGH ABOUT JT’S SLIP?

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view Arthur Re­nard Pho­tog­ra­phy Pim Hen­drik­sen

It’s not of­ten a club CEO is the sub­ject of One-on-One – but it’s not of­ten that a CEO also hap­pens to have won eight league ti­tles and two Euro­pean Cups. “The way I try to make the club more suc­cess­ful, in terms of rais­ing rev­enue and winning tro­phies, is sim­i­lar to how I cap­tained teams as a keeper,” Ajax’s Ed­win van der Sar says, be­fore out­lin­ing the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween dominating an 18-yard box and a board­room. Van der Sar be­lieves that, al­though he may not have a strong aca­demic back­ground or years and years of busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence on his CV, his two decades in the game give him in­valu­able in­sight into how to run a club. Par­tic­u­larly this club, where he played with dis­tinc­tion from 1990-99, lift­ing four Ere­di­visie ti­tles, three Dutch Cups, the UEFA Cup and the Cham­pi­ons League, beat­ing Mi­lan in 1995. All of that should stand Ed­win in good stead when it comes to an­swer­ing your ques­tions about his glit­ter­ing ca­reer, too.

Had you al­ways dreamt of be­com­ing a goal­keeper? Do you re­mem­ber the first time that you ever went in goal?

Chris Am­bler, via Face­book For the first one and a half years I was an out­field player. But then one day our keeper didn’t show up for a game and the coach said to me: “Ed­win, you’re the tallest, so you go in goal.” That went so well that I just ended up stay­ing there. For many years I’d played for a small ama­teur side called VV No­ord­wijk, and I did not ex­pect my dream of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional to ever come true. When I was around 19, I was ap­proached by Sparta Rot­ter­dam to be the third-choice goal­keeper. How­ever, they only of­fered to cover my travel ex­penses, so I chose to stay where I was at No­ord­wijk. Then a few days later Ajax phoned and asked me to go and sign for them, which I did.

What are your thoughts on the rise of the sweeper-keeper? You were al­ways good with your feet, did you in­spire it?

Nav Singh, via Face­book Dur­ing the 1990s we de­ployed a sys­tem at Ajax where I was in­deed in­volved in the build-up play, and it can be an as­set if you want to use a cer­tain style of play. Some­times I be­lieve that peo­ple at­tach too much im­por­tance to it. A goal­keeper is there mainly to stop the ball go­ing in. Louis van Gaal oc­ca­sion­ally ap­peared a bit ec­cen­tric when he was managing in England. Was he like that at Ajax? Laura Matthews, via Face­book He hasn’t re­ally changed very much, in terms of how he deals with the press or how he is with peo­ple in pri­vate – like at a din­ner party, for ex­am­ple. I vis­ited one of his train­ing ses­sions when he was at Manchester United and I still saw a very driven man who is con­tin­u­ously fo­cused on im­prov­ing his play­ers. The way that he dealt with play­ers, the key el­e­ments of his train­ing ses­sions and his gen­eral rules – it was all still very recog­nis­able to me, even af­ter so many years away. Do you think an­other Dutch team will lift the Cham­pi­ons League tro­phy? It is not very likely now, un­for­tu­nately. Andy Green, via Twit­ter [ Puffs out cheeks] That will be very, very dif­fi­cult. Even in my time, like 20 years ago, it was still a mas­sive achieve­ment, but back in those days you had only one club per coun­try and per­haps 16 teams over­all in fi­nal stages of the com­pe­ti­tion. With the new model the ro­mance has some­what gone, I be­lieve. Even if they im­ple­ment some new rules, I think the big­ger teams will al­ways dom­i­nate the tour­na­ment as they will over­take all of the other clubs with their huge bud­gets. That Ajax squad was full of play­ers ev­ery club in Europe wanted to sign. Who did Ju­ven­tus have to com­pete with to fi­nally land your sig­na­ture? Paul Kelly, via Face­book When I left Ajax in 1999, I trav­elled to Liver­pool and spoke to Ger­ard Houl­lier. I was shown around An­field and also met with the chair­man and a cou­ple of the play­ers. I thought about it prop­erly, but when Ju­ven­tus came to the ta­ble I came to the con­clu­sion that it would

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