Van der Sar saves pen on return – but Pearce loses

Mark Holmes
Edwin van der Sar: Congratulated after saving penalty

Edwin van der Sar: Congratulated after saving penalty

Edwin van der Sar saved a penalty after coming out of retirement to play a one-off game for Noordwijk – but Stuart Pearce was beaten playing for Longford AFC.

Van der Sar, who finished his career with Manchester United in 2011, was granted special dispensation by the Dutch FA to turn out for his former club in the country’s fourth division after all their goalkeepers were injured.

And the 45-year-old proved his enduring class by saving a first-half penalty against Jodan Boys, but he could not manage a clean sheet as Noordwijk settled for a 1-1 draw.

Pearce, meanwhile, was unable to secure Longford a win after coming out of retirement to play for the team dubbed the worst in England.

The club has lost all its games this season after the manager and entire first team left, conceding nearly 200 goals in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two.

Despite manager Nick Dawe introducing Pearce in the second half against Wotton Rovers, they lost 1-0, letting in a penalty.

Pearce, who won 78 caps for England and left professional football in 2002, was signed by insurer Direct Line for one game only, to fix the team’s confidence.

After the match, the 53-year-old said: “It was great to be back on the pitch. The lads were brilliant and really gave it their all. The result was unfortunate, but it was always going to be a difficult task.

“They’ve got the players to turn this around, and now that we’ve seen a real improvement in their confidence, hopefully they’ll push on and start climbing up the table.

“I want to thank the players, the coach and everyone that turned up to watch today. It was great to be given the opportunity by Direct Line to come in and help fix the morale here at Longford AFC.”