In a surprise move, Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar has temporarily come out of international retirement to join the Netherlands squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Iceland and Norway.
Van der Sar, who has made a record 128 international appearances for the Dutch national side, is only expected to play against Iceland and Norway before going back into retirement.
The 37-year-old Mancunian has been selected in the 22-man squad because goalkeepers Maarten Stekelenburg of Ajax and Feyenoord's Henk Timmer are both nursing injuries.
Fair enough and I really like to see a legendary player like Van der Sar, but isn’t this the moment for our younger players to get a chance to shine? It’s not like there are no alternatives available.
Let’s have a look at alternatives for Stekelenburg and Timmer.
FC Utrecht goalkeeper Michel Vorm has been in exceptional form over the past few seasons and he can surely rise to the occasion when given a chance. The 24-year-old has been praised by pundits for his cat-like reflexes and composed style of keeping.
FC Utrecht goalie Michel Vorm.
Last summer, he was linked to both Feyenoord and PSV, but both teams were not willing or able to splash their cash on the young goalie. FC Utrecht are not going to let their number one goalie leave cheap.
A second alternative would be Piet Veldhuizen. A player not active for one of the traditional top sides, the 21-year-old goalkeeper is active for Vitesse Arnhem. Velthuizen was given a chance by Vitesse when their expensive foreign goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic proved to be prone to the odd slip-up.
Vitesse Arnhem goalie Piet Velthuizen.
The young Velthuizen, 18 at the time, proved to have nerves of steel and cat-like reflexes. His amazing saves kept Vitesse in the Eredivisie and earned him call-ups for the Dutch U-21 and the Dutch Olympic side. It also got him noticed by several bigger clubs.
PSV were looking to sign the youngster to replace Heurelho Gomes, but the eight million euro transfer-sum proved to be too much for the reigning Dutch champions. Other sides may be less hesitant to pay that much money.
Our third option is a bit more controversial. 22-year-old goalie Kenneth Vermeer plays for Ajax and the Dutch U21-team. He is a product of the famous Ajax youth academy, which has produced numerous stars over the years.
Ajax goalie Kenneth Vermeer.
He was also the starting goalkeeper for the U21-team in the 2005 Youth World Cup, the 2006 and 2007 Youth European Championships and the 2008 Summer Olympics. During the last Olympics, Vermeer was one of the few Dutch players that excelled.
Despite his obvious talent however, Vermeer still hasn’t broken into first team at Ajax. He spent several seasons in the reserves and he was loaned to Willem II Tilburg last season. He only made his debut for Ajax last weekend, due to the injury for Stekelenburg, so he lacks first team experience.
I’m pretty sure we should give one of these three a chance to play. Van der Sar may be a better keeper at the moment, but he’s not getting any younger and we should make sure that his successors get some playing time in the national squad as well.
We should build up their confidence and show some trust, even if they make a mistake. Van der Sar played an abysmal first international match, as Holland went down 1-0 away to Belarus. Van der Sar failed to save a semi-decent shot by Sergey Gerasimets. He wasn’t dropped from the team and in the end, he re-paid this trust with stellar performances.
We should do the same with either of the three goalies listed above. Take a chance on one of them, it’s better for their long-term development and for the long-term development of Dutch football in general.