Tuesday August 1 2017
Throwback: Van der Sar at Juventus

On this day in 2001, Edwin van der Sar signed for Fulham after two seasons with Juventus.

The Dutchman joined from Ajax in the summer of 1999 for a fee of 17 billion lire - around £5m - and became the Bianconeri’s first ever foreign goalkeeper.

Van der Sar was regarded as one of the finest ‘keepers in the world, and joined up with former Ajax teammate Edgar Davids.

However, he never fully settled in Italy and came in for criticism due to a shaky start in his first season.

After an uptick in performances, the Old Lady led the Serie A title race but a dramatic collapse saw them lose four of their last eight matches and hand the Scudetto to Lazio by one point.

Van der Sar played all but two games, conceding 19 goals in his 31 league appearances.

The following season proved to be even worse for the Netherlands international, conceding a weak Marcelo Salas shot from outside the area against Lazio.

In the Champions League, Van der Sar was caught out at his near post by a free-kick from former Juventino Paulo Sousa in a 1-0 defeat to Panathinaikos which saw the Bianconeri exit at the group stage.

Worse was to follow in the League, with the goalkeeper accused of costing Carlo Ancelotti’s side the title.

An Alessandro Del Piero header and a long-range strike from Zinedine Zidane had Juve 2-0 up against Roma at Stadio delle Alpi on May 6, 2001.

A screamer from Hidetoshi Nakata got the Giallorossi back in it with 79 minutes played, but as the match headed into injury time the Bianconeri retained their lead.

Then, with 91 minutes on the clock, Nakata lined up another shot. Van der Sar couldn’t hold the Japanese midfielder’s effort, and Vincenzo Montella turned the rebound into the net.

Juve won their final five games of the season, but they would ultimately be pipped to the Scudetto by two points - with Roma taking the title.

Had Van der Sar held on to Nakata’s shot - or pushed it around the post - Ancelotti’s men would have won Serie A, and the Coach paid with his job.

The hierarchy in Turin took decisive action, signing Gianluigi Buffon from Parma for €52m on July 3.

Unwilling to play backup, Van der Sar opted to leave the Old Lady and he completed a surprise move to Fulham on August 1.

His reputation was rehabilitated over four seasons at Craven Cottage, earning a move to Manchester United in 2005.

Working under Sir Alex Ferguson, Van der Sar won the Premier League four times, as well as lifting the Champions League in 2008.

Having won 27 major trophies during his career, Van der Sar is today remembered as one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation.

Perhaps not in Turin though, where memories of that May mistake will forever tarnish his legacy.

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