Sander Westerveld arrived at Liverpool from Vitesse Arnhem in the summer of 1999. The Dutch goalkeeper cost £4million, a British record for a keeper at the time and he had a big price tag to live up to. During his first season at the club, he impressed the Anfield crowd with some great performances and it was clear that he was a fantastic shot-stopper. Such abilities shone through especially in his second year at the club during the 2000/2001 campaign where he played an important role in bringing a treble of cups to Merseyside in the form of the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and the League Cup. His most memorable moment in a Liverpool jersey came in the League Cup final against Birmingham when he saved a penalty from Andy Johnson which won the game for Liverpool.
There were however doubts about Westerveld’s abilities even during this stage of his Anfield career as he made a few errors during the 5-4 win against Alaves in the UEFA Cup final and even managed to punch the ball into his own net during a game against Chelsea. His third season at the Merseyside club was an unmitigated disaster as rumours serviced about his replacement. Three games into the season, he made a calamitous error against Bolton, and the mistake was the last straw for then manager Gerard Houllier who subsequently bought two replacement goalkeepers in Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland. Westerveld would not play another game for the club. So what has happened to the Dutch goalkeeper since he left Anfield?
Westerveld actually managed to revive his career immediately during a very successful spell at Spanish side Real Sociedad. He regained his form and confidence and played in the first team for the majority of his stay at the club, making 83 appearances between 2001 and 2004. During his time at the club, Sociedad finished second in the league, narrowly missing out on the La Liga title and he played six group games in the Champions League the following season. After a few years though, he again fell out of favour and was shipped out on loan to Real Mallorca in the 2004/05 season making six appearances for the island team.
On his return from loan at Mallorca, he was sold to Portsmouth and returned to England to play under Alain Perrin in July 2005. It was unhappy spell on the South coast and after some less than convincing performances he found himself out of the Pompey team. He was however given an unexpected lifeline in February 2006 as Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton had a goalkeeper injury crisis. Nigel Martyn, Richard Wright and Iain Turner were all unfit and David Moyes decided to take the Portsmouth goalkeeper on loan. He only lasted two games for Everton though and he was released from his Pompey contract at the end of the 2005/06 season.
After his release, the Dutch goalkeeper once again had a revival in his career as he helped Spanish second division Almeria to promotion to the Primera Liga, playing 37 league games during his first season. After just a year in Spain though, he returned to his native Holland where he signed a short term contract with Sparta Rotterdam. Again a first team regular, Westerveld opted to move and found himself out of the professional game for over a year. At 35 years of age, it might have been unlikely that he would find another club but last summer Westerveld had a successful trial at Monza and he has joined the Italian lower league club for this season, appearing nine times in the league for the club. It is certainly a long way from winning a treble of cup trophies with European giants Liverpool only 8 and half years ago.