The Dutchman was a colossus between the sticks at Old Trafford, and his reassuring presence (helped by a sensational back four) ensured United’s success during his stay at the club between 2005 and 2011.
His career high came in 2008, when United pipped rivals Chelsea to the Champions League trophy on penalties.
And although many remember it for John Terry’s infamous slip, Van der Sar’s crucially stopped Anelka’s spot-kick to crown United champions of Europe.
And Van der Sar has recently revealed how he managed to outfox the Frenchman on that night in Moscow.
“I remember studying a lot of Chelsea’s penalties on DVD before the match,” Van der Sar told Four Four Two.
“So, for example, I think I probably analysed about 40 that Frank Lampard had taken in the past. I had made plenty of notes and noticed that Nicolas Anelka would almost always take his penalties to the goalkeeper’s right. I analysed about 40 that Frank Lampard had taken. I made plenty of notes and noticed Anelka would almost always take his to the keeper’s right. Later on, I heard that Chelsea had also done their homework on me and learned that I usually dived to my right. So, I think their players were told to shoot to my left, which most of them did [they all did, bar Anelka]. I’d anticipated Anelka would shoot to the other side, and thankfully that is what happened.”
Van der Sar also said he regards the victory as the best moment of his entire career.
“After I had pushed away Anelka’s penalty, I feel like I was separated from the world for a couple of seconds. I don’t think I’ll ever experience a more ecstatic moment than when I realised we’d just won the Champions League final and noticed all my team-mates running towards me. It was the highlight of my whole career.”