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Edwin van der Sar has confirmed he will retire football at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.

There had been speculation about the Dutch keeper’s future for a while and he has now confirmed his intention to step down from playing.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted earlier this season he expected the 40-year-old to hang up his gloves at the end of the current campaign.

Ferguson was reportedly keen on having Van der Sar joining the coaching staff at Old Trafford, but the keeper says he will take a complete break from football in the summer.

Van der Sar has admitted he wants to spend more time with his wife Annemarie after she suffered a brain-related illness last year.

“I cannot really identify a time when it [the decision] happened,” van der Sar told Sport-Promotion.nl.

“Let’s just say that it was playing on my mind from the moment Annemarie had her stroke.

“She has fought back from it. We decided on another year in England and thus to stay at Manchester United.

“But, once engaged in the season, the thought of saying goodbye started to gnaw a bit more emphatically.

“Do not ask me how or why, but suddenly you know. That was sufficient.

“One minute you’re out. The next, you question it again. I thought about stopping, maybe a year ago.

“It is a difficult process. After a defeat, I thought differently than after playing a few good games in a row.

“The time has come to pay greater attention to my family.

“Although they have never complained, everyone in the family has indeed always had to focus on me, but all together we have also had a lot in return.”

The former Holland international insists his age played no part in his decision to quit as he still feels fit at the age of 40.

“No, my age played no role,” added Van der Sar. “I am 40 years old, but I still feel fit.”

United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele said that Van der Sar will go down alongside Peter Schmeichel as one of the club’s great keepers following his decisive penalty save from Nicolas Anelka in the Champions League shootout against Chelsea in 2008.

“He has been a fantastic servant,” Steele told Radio Manchester. “I was very lucky. I worked alongside Peter Schmeichel at Villa and I worked with Edwin for two and a half years.

“That penalty save in Moscow has elevated Edwin alongside Peter.”

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