‘I still don’t understand it’ – Ex-Red remains unsure why Liverpool sold him 20 years on from Anfield exit
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld has spoken out about his time at Anfield and admitted he’s still not sure why he was sold by Gerard Houllier.
The Dutchman was signed by Vitesse for a British record fee for a goalkeeper (£4million) in the summer of 1999 and was part of the famous treble-winning squad in 2001.
But after the arrival of Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland in Merseyside, the shot-stopper fell down the pecking order and was eventually sold to Real Sociedad in the winter of 2001.
“I know what happened, but I still don’t understand” Westerveld says (as quoted by Planet Football). “Houllier has told me and the press from day one that you need time to adapt to the English league. Of course, like all goalkeepers, I was criticized. They’re under a lot of pressure, especially at Liverpool.
“I never felt the pressure, but I could see and hear the criticism. I started well in my first year when I was 24 and goalkeepers tend to get better every year. In the first year we had the best defense in the Premier League and in the second year we won the treble.
“I’ve just improved, but on the first day of pre-season I heard rumors that Liverpool were hiring a new goalkeeper. That is normal. I wasn’t nervous or scared of losing my place because I felt like I was doing good things.”
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Both Dudek and Kirkland were signed after Liverpool suffered a shock defeat to Bolton Wanderers and Westerveld made a huge mistake.
That would be his last game for the Anfield team and he knew the writing was on the wall after being left out of the entire squad for a Champions League game.
“I made a mistake,” Westerveld says. “After that I left with the national team and Liverpool bought two goalkeepers instead of one. That was of course a heavy blow for me.
“I never thought I would have to leave Liverpool. I’ve always had a lot of self-confidence. I knew what I was doing. All goalkeepers make mistakes, but I also scored points.
“If they had brought in a goalkeeper, even Dudek, I would still have been fighting for my spot. Nobody knows what would have happened. But when they buy two goalkeepers and don’t even take you away to a Champions League game as number three, you know you’re number four.
“From number one to number four. This was just a nightmare. There was nothing for me to do. I didn’t get a chance to come back and they made it very clear. I found it very hard, but what can you do? That’s what happens in football.”
The 48-year-old was very happy at Liverpool and it was his ‘dream’ to play in England. So it’s quite sad to hear about the whole situation and the end of his career with the Reds.
“Everything was going great for me and the icing on the cake was Liverpool. English football is very popular in Holland and growing up it was Liverpool who won everything. It was always my dream to play in England and Liverpool was my club.”
Although he believed the end of his Merseyside career was premature, he can be proud of his achievements – this treble winning campaign and squad will long be remembered
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