Van der Sar is back in Oranje…for now

Some people just could not leave their profession in peace. With Holland’s arguably best goalkeeper in recent history, the Oranje could do little wrong with recalling an aging stalwart who showed next to little dip in form for both club and country.

But remember that it’d only be an interim call-up – he’s only agreed to playing in 2 qualifiers against Iceland and Norway. After that is, well, debatable.

I, however, would vouch for his renouncement of his retirement. We’ve seen how a good goalkeeper really keeps his team in matches and would, ironically, cause the same when the fortunes are turned. I thought that his Euro 2008 performance was the best in the Oranje. Screw France’s Henry goal, but he was at his best throughout the games against Italy and France and kept the Oranje scoreline respectable especially when the defence looked in shambles with Mathijsen and Ooijer hardly forming an imposing team to thwart opposing forwards from scoring.

New Elftal coach Bert van Marwijk has called upon FC Utrecht’s Michel Vorm. I’ve never heard of him before, period – and I follow Dutch football on a regular basis, checking scores online and visiting the Eredivisie site every week for updates. Now, I’ve never seen Vorm play before, so I won’t condemn a newbie in the Oranje setup. I trust that van Marwijk has his rationale but he’s the last Dutch coach to ever guide a Dutch team (Feijenoord) to European success with the UEFA Cup in 2002. If you’ve played football manager games without cheating, you’ll know how hard it is to even reach the semi-finals in these games, so I know that van Marwijk is no stranger to success.

Funny thing is – how Holland had a dearth of goalkeepers fit for national call-up in the last few years. The World Cup 1998 squad had the fading star Ed de Goeij and another old fart in Ruud Hesp, who did quite well in FC Barcelona. Sander Westerveld was quite good in the early 2000s before fading into near-obscurity but regained enough for a last gasp inclusion into the Euro 2004 before being totally blown into football wilderness. PSV Eindhoven’s long-time servant, Ronald Waterreus has served the Noord-Brabant club well but was never a firm contender to even sniff at van der Sar’s mittens. In 1994, when I started to sit up and watch the Oranje keenly, I noticed that there was Theo Snelders who made it to the final squad. De Goeij was Holland’s top keeper then but van der Sar was emerging as a talent then.

Who else can make it to the Oranje setup? Feyenoord’s top late 90s keeper was the Pole Jerzy Dudek. Ajax had van der Sar until after the World Cup and then settled on Fred Grim, another old keeper. When Grim and Joey Didulica underperformed for Ajax, the Amsterdam team bought Romania’s Bogdan Lobont. PSV had pretty much Waterreus installed between the posts before the fantastic Heurelho Gomes joined in 2004. Can you see a trend here? The top 3 in Holland could not even find the best keepers to sign. Yes, Ajax now has Maarten Stekelenburg but I never thought that he would be good Oranje material as he lacked the composure. Henk Timmer for Feyenoord? Old and fairly average.

PSV now had a Swedish keeper in Andreas Isaksson who once played for Juventus. They have Bas Roorda in their setup but I don’t think that he’d be joining the Oranje anytime soon. Other Dutch keepers I’ve heard before are Oscar Moens who did feature briefly for the Elftal and was a key man for Alkmaar Zaanstreek (AZ, not ‘AZ Alkmaar’), Jimmy van Fessem, Sander Boschker, Dennis Gentenaar and Maikel Aerts. These names hardly ring a bell with anyone not familiar with Dutch football and it’s not surprising. Is there any surprise that van Marwijk was left high and dry? These goalkeepers are already in their 30s and could be said to have passed their peak.

So, can anyone fill in the boots and gloves of the great Ice Rabbit yet remains to be seen, but Van der Sar would certainly delight Dutch football fans for helping out the Oranje through one of the most severe goalkeeping crisis in recent memory.  

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2 Responses to Van der Sar is back in Oranje…for now

  1. Vincent says:

    Michel Vorm never scores, because he is a goalie ;)But he is a talented keeper, that’s for sure. Just like Piet Velthuizen from Vitesse.Theyy will be the next generation goalkeepers for Holland.

  2. Artur says:

    Yea, I know Vorm’s a goalie but he may still score from the penalty spot or he’s a demented keeper like Rene Higuita or Luis Chilavert  ; pAs for Velthuizen, we’ll see if he’s gonna make the step up

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