Born: Voorhout, Netherlands, 29 October 1970
International caps: 130
International goals: 0
Signed: 1 August 2001 from Juventus (£7m)
Fulham debut: Manchester United 3-2 Fulham, 18 August 2001
Fulham appearances: 154
Fulham goals: 0
Honours: UEFA Intertoto Cup (2002)
Sold: 10 June 2005 to Manchester United, £2.3m
The arrival of Edwin van der Sar from Juventus from what was then a club record £7m in August 2001 was proof that Fulham meant business. The Dutch goalkeeper arrived with honours galore, having won the Champions’ League, four Dutch titles and two domestic Cups at Ajax, and his surprise switch to Craven Cottage – having been replaced by Gianluigi Buffon at Juve – briefly stunned the footballing world.
The word great is too often used in sports commentary but van der Sar was a great goalkeeper – as he proved by winning it all well into his mid-thirties at Manchester United after leaving Fulham. He had razor sharp reflexes and awesome agility as well as being excellent with the ball at his feet and was one of the key reasons why Fulham were able to consolidate their position in the Premier League having been promoted in such style under Jean Tigana. The Dutch international helped Fulham reach the FA Cup semi-final that year as well as winning the InterToto Cup the following season and his superb form continued over the following two years before he moved to Old Trafford for just over £2.25m in June 2005. He kept 52 clean sheets in 154 appearances for Fulham: a remarkable figure for a side that was often punching above its weight in the top flight.
What sums up van der Sar as a man is that he signed a new contract at the Cottage, knowing about United’s interest, to ensure his current employers were sure of a fee for his services. Not all modern footballers would do that. He is now chief executive at his first club, Ajax.