Edwin van der Sar testimonial: PICTURE SPECIAL

04 August 2011 09:08
For a man renowned for his cool head and steady hand, Edwin van der Sar was noticeably emotional as stars from the world of football turned out in tribute to the recently retired goalkeeper.

The Amsterdam Arena, home to Van der Sar's first club, Ajax, was packed with 53,000 adoring fans who were treated to an evening of celebrations in honour of the former Manchester United custodian.

Legend: Football paid tribute to Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in Amsterdam

Family affair: Van der Sar's son Joe, who is on Manchester United's books, featured in an early game

A Dream Team XI featuring the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Dirk Kuyt, Edgar Davids, Rio Ferdinand and Dennis Bergkamp took the field to play the current Ajax crop, with the Arsenal great getting on the scoresheet along with Louis Saha in a 2-1 win.

Speaking to the crowd afterwards, Van der Sar, who left the field to a standing ovation shortly before the end, said: 'I want to thank everyone in the stadium, thanks for your support down through the years. I will never forget this night.'

Others were quick to praise the 40-year-old.

Who's who: Legends from Dutch football, including cyrrent Ajax boss Frank de Boer and his brother featured

'He is not a normal keeper,' United great Sir Bobby Charlton said. 'The players in front of him always can have the thought: we still have Edwin. He has got so much talent and a strong character. Maybe he is the best goalkeeper United ever had, but we also had Schmeichel. But Van der Sar is unique.'

Goalscorer on the night Bergkamp also hailed his fellow countryman.

'He is a winner,' he said. 'Even in training, he always played 100 per cent. When you deliver in England like he did, you will be received in the arms of the fans.

'I experienced that too. They really, really appreciate you when you are a professional. That's something different than in Holland.'

One of Van der Sar's international managers, Guus Hiddink, added: 'The unique thing about Edwin is that he thinks always simple, it's based on quality and serenity. In the dressing room he corrected something always very smoothly. He was much appreciated by all his colleagues.'

Everyone's invited: The entire Van der Sar family, including daughter Lynn, wife Annemarie and son Joe were in attendance

Everyone's invited: The entire Van der Sar family, including daughter Lynn, wife Annemarie and son Joe were in attendance

And Rio Ferdinand took to social networking site Twitter to pay tribute to the Dutchman.

'Great crowd + great appreciation for a great servant of the game. It was a pleasure to play alongside him. Respect #edwinvandersar,' it read.

Earlier in the evening two teams for which van der Sar played - Ajax, with whom he won the Champions League in 1995, and the Dutch national side that were World Cup semi-finalists in 1998 - played each other.

United we stand: Wayne Rooney led several of Van der Sar's old Manchester team-mates

Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Frank Rijkaard, Frank de Boer and his brother Ronald, represented Ajax while Bergkamp and Giovanni van Bronckhorst were among the players representing the national side.

Up for the cup: We salute you, Edwin van der Sar

'Ajax fans thank Edwin van der Sar,' a banner draped on the stands read.

Van der Sar won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and Manchester United in 2008, four Premier League titles and four Dutch league titles.

The 40-year-old also holds the Premier League record of 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal during the 2010/11 season and a Dutch record for 130 caps.

He started his career at Ajax (1990-1999) before moving on to Juventus (1999-2001), Fulham (2011-2005) and Manchester United (2005-2011), playing his last official match at Wembley on May 28 during the Champions League final loss to Barcelona.

His son Joey, also a goalkeeper, opened the festivities with a training match between Manchester United D1 and Ajax D1.

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Source: Daily_Mail