Van der Sar not thinking of retirement

Van der Sar will reach the landmark in October, by which time he

hopes to be well on the way to another fine season for the Old

Trafford outfit. When he arrived from Fulham in a cut-price deal,

it was supposed to be a stop-gap for Sir Alex Ferguson, who was

still struggling to find an adequate replacement for Peter

Schmeichel. Now in his sixth season, van der Sar remains as

reliable as ever, with Ben Foster becoming the latest to abandon to

quest to battle with the veteran Dutchman when he left Old Trafford

for Birmingham this summer. Age must catch up with Van der Sar

eventually. But on recent evidence, there is plenty of life in the

former Ajax man yet. And he certainly is not naming the day when he

hangs up his gloves for the last time. “I don’t worry about when

that day arrives,” he said. “I am now exceeding my own expectations

so it doesn’t bother me. “When I was younger I thought maybe I

would finish in my mid-30s. But that is a normal time to be

thinking about it when you are younger and for players at this

level. “That would have been the obvious time to finish but I only

came to United late in my career and maybe that is why I am still

enjoying it. “Coming to Old Trafford probably gave me a new lease

of life.” With each passing season Ferguson must question why he

allowed Van der Sar to join Juventus in 1999 when he was first

giving serious thought to making the keeper a Red Devil. Of all

Schmeichel’s successors, he is the one who has come closest to

matching the great Dane’s extraordinary achievements, a feat

Ferguson is quick to acknowledge. “The club have to be happy,” he

said. “If they are not happy with the quality you are producing

then there is no need to keep on going. “I broke two fingers in

pre-season last year and then got another knee injury later on but

every time I was fit I was picked again so that was a good sign for

me. “It proved he still had confidence in me and my qualities and

ability. “It is always nice when you work hard to get back and then

the first opportunity to put you back in the team he does it. It is

important to know he has that faith.” Although Van der Sar retired

from international duty after the last European Championships,

there was some talk that Bert van Marwijk might call on him again

this summer for the World Cup. As it turned out, the man who won a

record 130 caps for the ‘Oranje’ watched the tournament at home,

desperately wanting Holland to overcome Spain in the final, whilst

knowing there would have been a nagging knot in his stomach if

Giovanni van Bronkhorst and his men had come through. “You make a

decision in life, sometimes you go back on it and sometimes you

stay with it,” he reflected. “I would have been really happy if

Holland had won the World Cup but I suppose then I would have

missed something on my list. “But I have achieved a few other

things so I cannot complain.”