Living in the shadow of the great Edwin van der Sar was both a frustrating and valuable experience for this towering stopper who had to be patient in waiting for his chance to establish himself as Holland’s No.1. Once his opportunity came, Stekelenburg snatched it with both hands.
A handful of sparkling performances at the 2010 World Cup finals established this 6’5” giant as one of the best stoppers in the modern game and his club career was given a boost as well, as he secured a move to Serie A side Roma after plenty of speculation linking him with a move away from Ajax eventually came to fruition.
Stekelenburg credits current Fulham boss Martin Jol for his rise in recent years as after his career took a dip during Marco van Basten’s tenure as Ajax boss, Jol re-ignited his belief when he took over at the Amsterdam. “My confidence was low when Van Basten was my coach, but Jol said I could be one of the best keepers in the game and he rebuilt my belief,” he says.