After tomorrow night Edwin van der Sar will hang up his beloved football shoes to never put them on again for a professional football match. He says farewell to the beautiful game at the highest stage of European club football. The final of the Champions League. A career of 21 years, 821 games for Ajax, Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United and 130 caps for Holland. It’s time to go.

Edwin van der Sar was my first favourite football player. As a 5 or 6 year old girl, he was my hero. In an Ajax team that has many heroes like Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer, Frank Rijkaard, Finidi George and Jari Litmanen, I choose Edwin van der Sar. With his big ears, his long and clumsy legs and as cherry on the cake his ‘flower pot’ haircut. Flappie was his nickname. He didn’t look like a hero but I felt he was special. And time showed I was right.

It took a while before Ajax fans started to see his class. It took a while before people started to call him ‘Ice Rabbit’ instead of ‘Flappie’. But when the moment he got confidence and believed in himself was there, he’s been incredible since. Defenders trust him with closed eyes. Someone who tries to break Van der Sar’s concentration will fail. It’s impossible. He’s not only a great goalkeeper but also a great footballer. Not a single pass backwards is too hard to control for him. Stories go around he’s the best of all when doing a ‘rondo’ during training. At the age of 40 he still is one of the best around, it’s that simple.
In a recent interview he talked about all the great moments in his career. He had goosebumps on his arms. Edwin van der Sar loves football and football loves
Edwin van der Sar.

Goalkeepers always want to have a ‘moment’. Like Jerzy Dudek in the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005, like Hans van Breukelen when he saved the penalty that won PSV the European Cup. Edwin van der Sar had to wait for it a long, long time but on a rainy pitch in Moscow in
2008 it was there. Edwin van der Sar never was a penalty killer. Until the moment Hans van Breukelen gave him some advice. He told Edwin he shouldn’t wait
as a well-behaved boy for the player to shoot but to let them wait for you. Van Breukelen told his younger colleague to walk around, to irritate and to
distract the player. That’s exactly what he did on May 21, 2008. He took his time to walk towards the goal, tried to distract Nicolas Anelka by jumping
around and more. He saved the penalty and he finally had his moment. For a few seconds he was the center of the world. Standing there alone, his arms in the
air. A moment of ecstatic joy.

The world of football will lose one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Holland will lose its greatest goalkeeper of all time. Even without winning a European Championship or World Cup,  ‘Sar’ is the best we have ever had. The world will not only lose a great player but also a great person and a true role model
for this sport. He is down-to-earth, a gentleman and a fantastic family man. Ask anyone about Edwin van der Sar and you’ll only hear positive stories. He is
one of the nicest there is.

I won’t lose one of my heroes because he will still be one. Tomorrow night, my thoughts will go back to when I was a 5 year old girl. I will see a young Van der Sar with big ears and awkward hair. My hero. I will compare him to the Edwin van der Sar I see nowadays who still has big ears and who still is a hero. But he’s not a boy anymore. He’s a confident and happy man. I can only be proud of him. Proud of everything he’s done and reached. An outstanding career for and outstanding player. I hope he lifts the trophy with the big ears tomorrow and says farewell to his beloved sport in the best way possible.

I’m gonna miss him.

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