Peter Schmeichel has outlined a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson in which he recommended the Manchester United boss buy Edwin van der Sar in 1999 – six years before the Dutchman eventually moved to Old Trafford.
The Red Devils legend left United for Sporting after winning a host of silverware – including the renowned treble of 1999 – and he was replaced by Mark Bosnich from Aston Villa.
However, Ferguson was unconvinced by the Australian ‘keeper and bought Fabian Barthez from Monaco for £7.8m the year after. The Frenchman lasted three seasons before losing his place to Tim Howard and van der Sar was eventually bought from Fulham in 2005.
The Dutch stopper brought stability and solidity to the United defence after a period in which Ferguson had used ten different goalkeepers and lived up to Schmeichel’s recommendation – which he revealed during a Q&A from his home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
When asked if he had advised Ferguson on a replacement before he left United, the Dane responded: “I did. Thought Edwin would be perfect but he signed for Juventus.”
After a mixed spell in Turin, the Dutchman moved to Fulham in 2001 and his excellent performances were eventually rewarded with a move to Old Trafford in 2005.
Van der Sar spent six years with the Red Devils, winning four Premier League titles and the Champions League, and Ferguson himself spoke of wanting him earlier in his career.
“I tried to replace Schmeichel, but that was very difficult,” the Scotsman said in 2007. “We went for Fabien Barthez and he did well for a while, but he then had his own situations, so we went for Edwin.
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