Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has confirmed he will walk away from the game at the end of the season.
Van der Sar had been expected to announce his retirement from football this season, with even United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitting he felt his custodian would depart Old Trafford at the end of the term.
The 40-year-old, who has won three Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy in his 245 appearances with the Red Devils, said he wants to spend more time with his family.
Van der Sar’s wife, Annemarie, collapsed with a brain haemorrhage in December 2009, and the custodian admitted he had been weighing up retirement ever since.
“It is now time to pay attention to my family,” he told the website of his management agency, Sport-Promotion.nl.
“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.”
“It is a difficult process. After a defeat, I thought differently than after playing a few good games in a row.”
“Do not ask me how or why, but suddenly you know. That was sufficient.”
“Although they have never complained, everyone in the family has indeed always had to focus on me. But all together we have also had a lot in return.”
The former Holland international also denied that age played a role in his decision to quit, saying: “No, I am 40 years old but I still feel fit.”
Van der Sar’s retirement opens the door for Ferguson’s second-choice keeper, Tomasz Kuszczak, who has previously declared his desire to take over as United’s number one.
The Polish international has made just 29 appearances in five years since moving to Old Trafford from West Bromwich Albion.