I am pleased to announce we will be hosting a Stretford-End XI for a bit of fun during the holiday season. Each day we will have a poll to determine who you believe the best Manchester United player is for each position, and at the end we will list the Stretford-End XI picked by you the readers. Today we’ll be starting with goalkeepers. Each of our three candidates is highly qualified, all having won a European title with United. Of course those three are Alex Stepney, Peter Schmeichel, and Edwin van der Sar.
Alex Stepney was the man in goal when Manchester United lifted their first European Cup in 1968. When Stepney moved to United from Chelsea in 1966 it was for a then-record £55,000. Stepney remained with United until 1978. During his tenure at the club, Stepney’s experiences ranged from European glory in 1968 to relegation in 1974. His last major accomplishment with the club came in 1977 when United won the FA Cup. During his career he amassed 539 appearances, which is the sixth most of any player in the club’s history.
The Great Dane. Few would argue that Peter Schmeichel was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. To this day he still holds the Premier League record for clean sheets-to-games ratio at 42 percent. Schmeichel was an integral part to United’s rise in the 1990s under Sir Alex Ferguson. During his time at Old Trafford from 1991-1999, Schmeichel earned five Premier League titles, three FA Cup titles, and a Champions League title. Schmeichel was of course the man in goal when United won the Treble in 1999, which was his final season with the club.
Edwin van der Sar
The final candidate is none other than our current goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. The Dutchman joined United from Fulham in 2005 and has been a mainstay in goal ever since. After three seasons without a Premier League title, Van der Sar played a key role in United’s resurgence to claim the title in 2006-07. Van der Sar will most likely be best remembered by United fans for his penalty save to win the 2008 Champions League. During the 2008-09 season, Van der Sar broke the world record for most minutes without conceding a goal. That season he had 21 clean sheets as United claimed their record-tying 18th title. There is still much uncertainty over Van der Sar’s future, though many believe this will be his final season. One thing is certain though, Van der Sar will be missed the day he hangs up his gloves.
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