By Peter Glynn
Edwin Van Der Sar believes better quality coaches and teachers will make St.George’s Park a future success for English football.
The former Holland and Manchester United legend visited the £120m complex this week, stressing that state-of-the-art facilities are only one part of securing long-term success and that better teachers of young players is the answer.
He said: “The main thing is the quality of the coaches and the teachers and the projects they have to teach them [the young players}."
Currently working as Sporting Director at Ajax, one of his former clubs, Van Der Sar knows a thing or two about working in successful environments.
Having recorded over 600 appearances in a glittering club career with the Amsterdam club, Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United, he is also Holland’s most-capped player.
He added: “You have to have good facilities - and the national team trains here and all the [England] youth teams - but everything has to be followed up to ensure that the quality is higher.”
As part of the dedication to the development of better quality goalkeepers, St.George’s Park will host a specific goalkeeping conference in April.
Van Der Sar does, however, believe the popularity of the Premier League represents a challenge to the development of a stream of English players.
“It’s a great league, one of the best leagues in the world, so everybody wants to play here. It’s difficult for young English players, never mind goalkeepers, to get a chance,” explained the two-time Champions’ League winner.
“It was good that Joe Hart got a chance at Manchester City when he was young. I think City are reaping the benefits from that decision.
“Hopefully, Ben Foster, who had experience at Manchester United for a couple of years, is going to come back into the frame. He’s doing well for West Brom.”
The 42 year-old’s visit to England’s new training home prompted the Dutch stopper to recall favourable memories of his decade playing in the Premier League, a period in which he captured four league titles at Old Trafford.
He added: “One of the highlights of my career was playing in England. Playing against great players, and playing for two clubs: Fulham and Manchester United.
“The first time you kick-off a game in the Premier League, it is another milestone for yourself.
“The passion of the fans and the admiration that the players get here is quite remarkable and really fulfilling.”
To watch the video interview with Edwin Van Der Sar at St. George’s Park click on the media player above
Look out for April’s edition of The Boot Room, The FA Licensed Coaches’ club magazine, for Edwin’s thoughts on the changing role of the modern goalkeeper.