Former Man United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw might not be remembered as a club legend, but he's been around the block at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman, who's now 58, spent six seasons on the books under Alex Ferguson with one of those including United's treble winning season.
Spending years behind Peter Schmeichel and Fabien Barthez limited his appearances to 60 in all competitions, between 1996 and 2002.
Many consider him to be one of the greatest backup keepers of the Premier League era, given he never looked out of place when he got the call.
— 𝘾𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙖 𝘾𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙨 aka Larry 🇺🇦 (@Cantona_Collars) June 26, 2021
Man United Dressing Room
Being the number 2 on more than one occasion never stifled him. Van der Gouw told Planet Football he always had to be ready for what's next.
"If you’re not playing, you have to do everything to get the chance to play. You have to be positive for your teammates because they’re your colleagues and you want to win."
During his stint at Manchester United, Van der Gouw won four Premier League titles, and lifted the Champions League in 1999 on that infamous night at Camp Nou.
With the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City setting the tone in terms of European success as of late, he knows squad depth has always been important.
"You can never win with just 11 players because there are so many games," Van der Gouw said. "You have the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Premier League, the League Cup. "
Whether he was playing or not, the former keeper said there was bigger things at stake. "You have to be positive for your teammates, and if you can’t handle that then you have to find another club."
Manchester United 2000/2001.
Roy Keane, van der Gouw, Johnsen, Cole, Yorke, Silvestre;
Butt, Giggs, Beckham, Neville, Irwin.
Premier League 🏆 pic.twitter.com/N5blJigAYP
— Football Older (@footballolder) May 29, 2021
Relationship With Schmeichel
Most of Van der Gouw's seasons at Old Trafford were spent in the shadows of Peter Schmeichel. He left a regular starting job in Vitesse in the Netherlands to adopt a backup role.
Despite being contenders for the starting spot, the Dutchman says he and Schmeichel had a good relationship, and he learned a lot from him at Man United.
"When I was playing in Holland, I always wanted to see what it was like to work at a top club and to see how Peter Schmeichel trained and played."
"I was really looking forward to working with him. He wanted to stop all the shots and he did it with so much determination and belief. He had the quality to do it. It was very interesting to see."
Many players will go seasons without being the first choice and that's something Van der Gouw can sympathise with. He reiterates that being exempt from the starting eleven isn't as easy as you'd think.
"It’s a mindset, absolutely, because if you go there wanting to be No.1 and expecting to be No.1, then I think that’s wrong. But it’s not an easy job."
"You never know when you have a chance to play. You always have to be ready for the moment the manager needs you. When the chance is there, you have to be ready."
On this day 1996: Relatively unknown Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joined Manchester United from Molde
Solskjaer joined the club with Jordi Cruyff, Karel Poborsky, Ronny Johnsen and Raimond van der Gouw pic.twitter.com/IPErrW5hqn
— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) July 23, 2019
Man United Ethics
Many look back to the era of the late 1990s and early 2000s as some of the glory days for Manchester United as a club under Alex Ferguson.
With the club going through a bad patch recently as far as results and fan satisfaction is concerned, Van der Gouw says players were always adhered to the highest standards.
"If you’re at a top club, you’re at the highest level in the country. The facilities were there, you have some of the best coaches around you, so if you want to develop, that’s the perfect place to be."
His relationship with Alex Ferguson was strong, even if he wasn't first choice. The Dutchman remembers Ferguson giving him a chance early on into his United tenure.
"Ferguson was very good to me. He gave me games. If you’re the champions, you need to play at least 10 times to get a medal and Ferguson looked at that as well."
"In my first year I didn’t play a lot, but I played a few important games. One of them was the Champions League semi-final away to Dortmund."
"That keeps you going because you want to play in those games. You want the chance to be involved. I had the feeling that I’m part of the whole squad. I’m part of the club."
Featured image credit: @BeardedGenius on Twitter