Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar will retire from football at the end of the season.
The 40-year-old former Holland international moved to Old Trafford from Fulham in 2005 and helped the Red Devils to three Premier League titles and Champions League glory in 2008.
Making the announcement he said: “It is now time to pay attention to my family.”
Van der Sar has been contemplating retirement since his wife Annemarie collapsed with a brain haemorrhage in December 2009.
“I cannot really identify a time when it [the decision] happened,” said the former Ajax man. “Let’s just say that it was playing on my mind from the moment Annemarie had her stroke.
“She has fought back from it. We decided on another year in England and thus to stay at Manchester United. But, once engaged in the season, the thought of saying goodbye started to gnaw a bit more emphatically.”
Van der Sar admitted it had not been an easy decision but he feels the time is right.
He added: “One minute you’re out. The next, you question it again. I thought about stopping, maybe a year ago. It is a difficult process. After a defeat, I thought differently than after playing a few good games in a row.
“My age played no role. I am 40 years old, but I still feel fit.
“And then the decision came suddenly. Do not ask me how or why, but suddenly you know. That was sufficient.
“The time has come to devote greater attention to my family – although they have never complained. Everyone in the family has indeed always had to focus on me, but we have also had a lot in return.”
United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele believes Van der Sar will go down alongside former Red Devil Peter Schmeichel as one of the club’s greats following his decisive penalty save from Nicolas Anelka in the Champions League final shootout against Chelsea in May 2008.
Steele said: “Edwin will retire at the end of the season. It has been a mutual decision between the manager, the team and Edwin.
“He has been a fantastic servant. I was very lucky. I worked alongside Peter Schmeichel at Villa and I worked with Edwin for two and a half years.
“That penalty save in Moscow has elevated Edwin alongside Peter.”
Copyright 2011 by Barclays Premier League