On the training grounds near the Amsterdam Arena there were no less than six goalkeepers Wednesday morning. One of the 'keepers being worked by goalkeepers' trainer Wil Coort was Edwin van der Sar, who stays in shape with his former club until Hollands international match against Belarus on June 7.
Van der Sar entered the grounds side-by-side with coach Ronald Koeman. There he greeted the Ajax players, of whom he knows many already. Soon he ran into Jari Litmanen, David Endt and conditioning trainer Laszlo Jambor, whom he still knew from his earlier days with Ajax.
The now 32 year-old goalkeeper played his final match for Ajax almost four years ago, on May 23 1999. He played a total of 312 matches for Ajax. Van der Sar returned in the beginning of the 1999-2000 season to say his goodbyes. His transfer to Juventus had taken place during the summer and there had not been time to greet the supporters.
Now the season in England has finished, the goalkeeper would be, like the other 'English' internationals, without any training until June 7. But the Dutch Football Association and the players thought of the plan to stay in shape with their former Dutch teams. The FA contacted Ajax and Van der Sar was more than welcome to train with his old club.
The fans had not forgotten the popular goalkeeper from the great team of 1995. ,,It's always nice to hear people calling your name'', he said afterwards.
At Fulham he trains with two, sometimes three goalkeepers. At Ajax there were six. ,,It takes some adapting'', said Van der Sar. But he was still in great form.
For goalkeepers' trainer Wil Coort it also took some getting used to seeing his former pupil back on the pitch. ,,It's been a while", Coort said after the first training session with Van der Sar. ,,But I've known Edwin for quite some time and it's fun to work with him again. You could see the other guys being impressed, after all it is Van der Sar, the Dutch team's goalkeeper. I also felt that they were a bit more focussed. When they played on Van der Sar, it had to be right!"