Classic Transfer: Liverpool break British transfer record to sign Dutch international

first_imgLiverpool splashed out £4 million to sign Sander Westerveld from Dutch outfit Vitesse in June 1999.Such a sum would be regarded as a knock-down price in today’s vastly inflated market, but the fee broke the British transfer record for a goalkeeper 16 years ago.The towering Netherlands shot stopper had earned his first senior international cap against Brazil just one week prior to his move to Anfield, having helped Vitesse qualify for Europe, and deserved his shot at the big time.Although Westerveld was far from a household name, it seemed as though the Merseysiders were in safe hands due to Gerard Houllier’s previously shrewd transfer business.The Dutchman replaced David James between the sticks and achieved instant success during his debut season on these shores, conceding the fewest amount of goals in the Premier League. 2 2 Sander Westerveld The goalkeeper went on to play in the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup finals as Liverpool landed a treble, of sorts, a year later.However, Westerveld had failed to convince the club’s fan base fully, due to several lapses in concentration.The shot-stopper began the next season as first-choice, despite doubts in regards to his longevity.Yet, after Westerveld allowed a somewhat feeble long-range strike from Bolton Wanderers’s Dean Holdsworth squirm under his body and into the net in August 2001, the ongoing debate over the Dutchman’s long-term future was reopened.Houllier had seen enough.Seven days after Westerveld’s clanger at the Reebok Stadium, which proved to be his final game for the club, Liverpool completed a double swoop for Chris Kirkland and Jerzy Dudek from Coventry City and Feyenoord respectively.Having lost his place for both club and country, Westerveld was urged to move on to reignite his career and, crucially, get more game time.Real Sociedad offered the Dutchman an escape route and he duly signed for the Spanish outfit for £3.4 million in December 2001. Not the most glamorous of exits, we’re sure you’ll agree.last_img