Edwin van der Sar: Man Utd legend's assist for Wayne Rooney in 2011 was next-level thinking

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Edwin van der Sar remains one of the finest goalkeeper’s in Manchester United’s history.

The Dutchman made 266 appearances for the Red Devils across a six-year spell, winning 10 trophies in total.

United supporters will never forget his stop from Nicolas Anelka in the penalty shootout to win the Champions League in 2008.

“I remember studying a lot of Chelsea’s penalties on DVD before the match,” Van der Sar later reflected, per FourFourTwo. “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.”

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Van der Sar was a perfect pro

Van der Sar was also a part of four Premier League title-winning teams.

United’s dominance in the 2000s and into the early 2010s under Sir Alex Ferguson was fuelled by committed professionals, and Van der Sar certainly fit that requirement.

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He retired in 2011 at the age of 40 and has since gone on to do a fine job at Ajax, initially as their marketing director and now in his current role as CEO.

Among the records that the former goalkeeper can claim is that of the oldest player in Premier League history to record an assist.

And what an assist it was, too.

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Van der Sar’s brilliant assist for Rooney

United were playing Aston Villa on February 1, 2011, when a 40-year-old Van der Sar showed incredible awareness to pick out Wayne Rooney with a long pass upfield.

Rooney expertly controlled the pass and fined beyond Brad Friedel in the very first minute of the match.

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That’s some next-level awareness.

What United fans would give for a prime Van der Sar between the sticks today.

Van der Sar’s thoughts on De Gea

David de Gea appeared to be a fine replacement for the Dutchman. Indeed, at one point he was arguably the best ‘keeper in the world.

But the Spaniard can no longer be ranked that highly.

Speaking about United’s No.1 in 2020, Van der Sar said De Gea shouldn’t be harshly criticised for his mistakes.

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“David has been great for United. He has made some mistakes but I’ve made them myself also, every player makes mistakes,” Van der Sar said, per United’s website.

“It’s about the moment in which you make them – are they at 0-0? Is your team bailing you out? Could a striker score an injury-time goal so the mistake you made goes into the background?

“I’m sure that David will be the force that he has been for the club.”

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