National coach Dick Advocaat didn’t say so, but Sander Westerfeld was almost certain that Ronald Watarius would be the goalkeeper and not the goalkeeper at the Euro 2004 if something happened to Edwin van der Sar. “I won’t name any other names, but there were still three or four players in the selection who knew for sure: We’re not playing this tournament for a minute, we’re there for the training sessions,” he said 46 years ago. The old goalkeeper, who played at that time, and EK was still valuable.
And in the decisive group match against Latvia, next Friday in Riga, the current opponent of Orange in the World Cup qualifiers, Westerfeld was in contact with the Netherlands on the bench. A journalist friend kept the goalkeeper informed via text messages, and even directly on the phone after the match, about developments in the other group match between the Czech Republic and Germany.
After a 3-2 win over Orange in Arjen Robben’s famous substitution match, the Czech Republic were already sure of their place in the quarter-finals. The road ahead for Germany seemed clear, but the Czechs did their sporting duty and helped the Dutch national team with a 2-1 victory over the Germans.
Television shows how substitutes, including Raphael van der Vaart and meanwhile substitutes Ruud van Nistelrooy, turned on Westerfield with a questioning look to advance 3-0. “Now it’s hard to imagine,” said Westerfield, who did not ask for permission and devised the procedure himself. “The goalkeeper coaches are now in contact with people in the stands. They have live images and they transform instantly. But then it went like this.” . “I had a feeling that I was a part of it. Everyone has a job. So did I too. I think it’s important to know this result. If we were leading 1-0, we would, for example, not have to take any risks.”
Four years ago, Westerveld, who currently works for KNVB as a young goalkeeper coach, was the second goalkeeper in his country’s European Championship. Van der Sar suffered a strain in his left thigh, which allowed the former Liverpool goalkeeper to enter against Denmark and into the quarter-final against then-Yugoslavia. The group final match with France (both countries have already qualified for the quarter-finals) was a great goal for Westerfeld. The counter eventually stopped in six international matches. “I wasn’t lucky to have Van der Sar in front of me. Without that injury in the European Championships, I would only have come three or four games for Orange, Van der Sar didn’t really have anything and he was always there.” Look at the goalkeepers in the Dutch national team, the situation is very different. No, this does not cause frustration. Sometimes you also have to have a little luck as a guard. “
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