Petr Cech has expressed his admiration for the way former Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Saar inspired him to use his feet between the sticks.
The Dutchman arrived at Old Trafford back in 2005 and made 266 appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson, winning eight major trophies in the process.
His replacement, David de Gea, has done a superb job filling his shoes and is now regarded by many as the best in the world.
But Cech, speaking to Arsenal’s official website, was quick to mention the visionary nature of Van der Sar’s style in goal.
“I mention Edwin van der Sar when he was playing for Ajax,” he said. “Suddenly they used him as a defender when they needed to keep possession. In difficult moments they just passed to him.”
“They are the first team you see at the time really using a goalkeeper as a member of the team to play, not only to play a goal-kick and to save the ball.
“You realise this is going to be the way forward and now it’s one of the most basic skills of a goalkeeper.”
It is quite depressing to think that Van der Sar has a better touch than Matteo Darmian Romelu Lukaku, Phil Jones and perhaps a few others in the current squad, but that, I guess, is just a testament to the unique influence he had between the sticks.
While De Gea remains almost invisible on the pitch, maintaining a cold, emotionless glare until pulling off a seemingly impossible save, you could always feel Van der Sar’s presence. He wanted to have an active role in games and, more often than not, he managed to nullify opponents with his sheer control and imposing frame.
United will never a keeper like him again, but they may also never have a better shot-stopper than De Gea for some time.