DUBAI – Manchester United and Ajax legend Edwin van der Sar has been confirmed as one of the speakers for the 14th Dubai International Sports Conference (DISC), which will be held at Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre’s Joharah Ballroom on December 28.
One of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, Dubai International Sports Conference has been organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, every year since 2006 and today it is one of the world’s premium football forum, where the game’s top stakeholders assemble for extensive discussions on challenges facing the ever-evolving world of football.
Organised by Dubai Sports Council, this year’s Conference is taking place under the theme, “Future Football Accelerators”, and Van der Sar, who is making his first appearance at DISC, will get the ball rolling alongside former England manager Fabio Capello and Ferran Soriano, chief executive of Manchester City Football Club and its parent company City Football Group, in the first of the day’s four sessions titled, “English Football Back to the Top”.
Welcoming the speakers, H.E. Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council and chairman of DISC’s Organising Committee, said: “We are delighted to announce the participation of one of the best goalkeepers to ever play the game, Edwin van der Sar.
“Now the CEO of Ajax, the club where his senior professional career started, Van Der Sar is in a unique position, with experience of both sides of the fence – as goalkeeper, which is one of the most demanding positions in the game, and as a club chief executive.
“The experience he brings and the insights he will offer at the Conference, will really enrich the discussions we are going to have on December 28, under the theme “Future Football Accelerators”.
“We are also delighted to welcome back Mr Fabio Capello and Mr Ferran Soriano, who have been two of the staunchest supporters of the Dubai International Sports Conference. Mr Soriano will be making his third consecutive appearance, while Mr Capello will be attending for the ninth time.
“Again, both will have some amazing insights to offer as we discuss the resurgence of English club football - the finals of both the 2019 UEFA Champions League (Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspurs) and the 2019 UEFA Europa League (Chelsea vs Arsenal) were all-English affairs. It was the first time ever that four clubs from the same nation contested the two major European finals in the same season, and we have three top men to discuss the ascent of English football.”
Considered one of the best goalkeepers to ever don the gloves in football, Van der Sar is the second most capped player in the Netherlands national team’s history and has played for top clubs like Ajax, Juventus and Manchester United in a celebrated professional career that spanned 21 years.
Van der Sar is one of the few players to have won the UEFA Champions League with two different teams – with Ajax in 1995 and Manchester United in 2008. He is one of the most decorated and successful football players ever, having won 27 major trophies in his career, including four Premier League titles with Manchester United and as well as the 2008 Fifa Club World Cup with them.
Van der Sar has also set a number of records in his career. In the 2008–09 season, he set the world league clean sheet record by not conceding a single goal for 1,311 minutes. His performances that season earned him the 2009 UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year award. He is also the oldest player to win the English Premier League title, at 40 years and 205 days old, in 2010-11.
Since his retirement from the game, Van der Sar has been part of the Ajax boardroom, starting as the club’s Marketing Director in 2012 until his promotion in 2016 as the club’s Chief Executive Officer.
Capello, who managed the England national team from 2007 to 2012, is footballing royalty as well. A midfielder, he won three Serie A titles with Juventus and one with Milan as a player. He also played for Roma, winning the Coppa Italia with them. But his true legacy is the work done from the dugout. One of the top proponents of the Italian school of coaching, Capello won four Serie A titles with Milan and a UEFA Champions League in his first five seasons as manager.
He then spent a year at Real Madrid, where he won the La Liga title on his first attempt (1996-97), and in 2001, he led Roma to their first league title in 18 years. Overall, Capello has won a major league championship in seven of his 16 seasons as a coach and is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time.
Soriano, meanwhile, has been a part Manchester City’s great footballing ascent after joining the English club in 2012 from Barcelona, where he was Vice President responsible for economic affairs. He has brought his innovative vision of sports marketing to the City Football Group, who also own parts of clubs in the United States (New York City FC), Australia (Melbourne City FC), Japan (Yokohama F Marinos), Spain (Girona), Uruguay (Club Atletico Torque), China (Sichuan Jiuniu), and India (Mumbai City FC).