Champions League: Tottenham v Ajax – what does future hold for compelling Dutch side?


Ajax are top of the Dutch league, on goal disagreement from PSV Eindhoven, with two matches to play

“It feels enjoy the complete world is talking about Ajax again. It’d be huge to eradicate the title.”

Edwin van der Sar has spent significant of a sunny April afternoon staring at Ajax’s early life teams in coaching. At forty eight, he is chief executive of the Dutch membership he first joined as a 20-twelve months-outmoded goalkeeper in 1990.

He won four league titles, three Dutch Cups, the Uefa Cup in 1991 and the Champions League in 1995 for the length of his time with Ajax, sooner than leaving for Juventus and later joining Fulham, then Manchester United.

Now sitting for the length of the 55,000-capability stadium named after membership legend Johan Cruyff, his consideration is as soon as more turning to trophies.

There’s increasing excitement all over the compelling younger Ajax aspect who enjoy already crushed True Madrid and Juventus on this season’s Champions League. Tuesday evening brings the vital leg of their semi-closing in opposition to Tottenham in London.

BBC Sport’s Football Focal point programme travelled to Amsterdam within the week sooner than the match and heard how Ajax’s “philosophy and DNA” continues to manufacture thrilling skill in a soccer world that has “modified entirely” since their final vital European success.

However what does the long term preserve for this community of avid gamers? Function they in reality very best enjoy “one shot” at success?

Edwin van der Sar

At Ajax we enjoy now a sure philosophy that is infrequently more vital than a hit – the improvement of avid gamers.

It took save within the Seventies with Ruud Krol, Johan Neeskens and Johan Cruyff. In the Eighties there was Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. In the Nineties, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Frank and Ronald de Boer and myself. In the 2000s, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.

Now we enjoy now avid gamers enjoy central defender Matthijs de Ligt, who has been immense for us. He lives about 5km away from the coaching ground and would the least bit times draw biking on his bike. A immense participant. He’s very best 19 however since final twelve months he is our captain.

In midfield we enjoy now Donny van de Beek, a 22-twelve months-outmoded and one other home-grown product, and 21-twelve months-outmoded Frenkie de Jong, who is sadlyleaving for Barcelona.

De Jong is no longer from our academy, we signed him from Willem II at 17, however [technical director] Marc Overmars saw him at 15. He’s an Ajax-model participant, assured with the ball, the least bit times procuring for alternate choices. He never wants to kick it away.

Many other clubs mediate in some other case, however right here it has the least bit times been vital to present kids an different. It be our lifeline. It be in our DNA.

In 1995 it was more uncomplicated to arrangement a crew. Then got right here the Bosman ruling, and the development of the massive 5 leagues of Europe. The arena of soccer has modified entirely and or no longer it is miles a handicap for us being in a small country.

Our home TV money is set 9m euros (£7.7m) – the Netherlands would possibly possibly be very best 17m folk – while final save within the Premier League got 110 million euros (£94.6m) final season.

However we’re gorgeous. Now we enjoy a sure strategy, a components we mediate we must play soccer, and I mediate followers within the complete world enjoy that the crew is no longer very best about maximising revenues. It is no longer very best about promoting shirts, it is about soccer.

Our philosophy, that we save kids and give them an different to shine, that needs to proceed.

Sander Zeldenrijk, chief editor of Ajax Lifestyles magazine

The philosophy at Ajax has the least bit times been the an identical. Play comely soccer, educate your enjoy avid gamers, obtain them within the crew, add intellectual signings if mandatory. It is miles the philosophy of Johan Cruyff.

In the summertime Ajax signed Daley Blind from Manchester United and Dusan Tadic from Southampton. They spent a lot of money for this membership, around 25m euros (£21.5m) however that’s what the crew major – experienced avid gamers to acquire the job finished and obtain by the Champions League qualifying rounds.

That is why there was stress from the very starting up this season. They’d to arrangement the community stage.

They performed Traditional Liege from Belgium, Sturm Graz of Austria and Ukrainian aspect Dynamo Kiev. They showed quality and performed neatly, however nobody anticipated them to head on and originate what they’ve finished.

To enjoy eradicated True Madrid and Juventus, or no longer it is already been a crazy season for Ajax. However now you will very neatly be so close, it’s good to be fascinated by the final. It is too tempting no longer to.

There is a starvation within the crew, however the Spurs recreation will in all probability be subtle and this most modern success would possibly possibly perchance presumably in reality be one amongst the biggest risks. Spurs are a large crew and Ajax will must be at 100% to acquire a neutral consequence in London.

Having a gape on the community of avid gamers Ajax enjoy this season, right here is their very best shot to eradicate the trophy in a truly long time. I query after this season they is potentially no longer the an identical any more.

Van der Sar

Right here we don’t need the four computerized spots that you will enjoy in England, so we had to play three games to qualify for the Champions League, after finishing 2d within the league final twelve months.

There was a expressionless arrangement-up since – every recreation we play greater. Against True Madrid and Juventus within the final 16 and quarter-finals, the diagram in which we showed that our crew can beat more experienced and costlier avid gamers, it gave us immense pleasure and pride.

Maybe this can even be unhealthy as neatly obviously. Before we were the underdog and presumably surprise was vital. Now folk query from us, even even supposing we’re the youngest crew within the opponents.

However I don’t mediate we’re very best dreaming of the final. We feel we’re neatly equipped to accommodate the entirety that is thrown at us. It’d be huge to eradicate the trophy.

Now we enjoy had a lot of compliments referring to the membership, its philosophy. Your complete world is talking about Ajax again, however on the an identical time we enjoy now no longer won the league for four seasons, so it is about time.

The avid gamers are very centered on reaching something, on giving something support to Ajax and then we can will enable you to reach the subsequent degree, at a bigger membership. Maybe we gaze you again on the finish of your occupation, per chance enjoy me or per chance as a coach enjoy Frank de Boer.

Frank de Boer, dilapidated Ajax, Barcelona, Rangers and Netherlands defender. Now supervisor of MLS membership Atlanta United, he managed Ajax from 2010-2016, a hit four Dutch league titles

I’m restful an Ajax fan. I worked there for nearly 25 years – I will not name it work in reality, I intellectual loved being there – as a participant and a coach. So I’m the least bit times staring at my outmoded membership with a truly involving gaze. Once they are doing neatly I’m very chuffed on yarn of I’m restful a truly fanatical supporter.

Ajax enjoy the least bit times attach a lot of effort into the academy, they attach a lot of money into it. Now these avid gamers are returning the favour.

Most ceaselessly the academy will in all probability be happy when it produces on realistic one and a half of avid gamers for the vital crew every twelve months. Then you will enjoy an comely abilities enjoy this one correct now.

You already gaze how quick it goes, how snappily the avid gamers switch on, however per chance or no longer it is intellectual that Ajax originate no longer stand within the diagram in which. One other abilities has to step up and expectantly they’ll. We’re going to have the power to gaze what is going on next season.

Daniel Dwarswaard,from Dutch day by day newspaper Algemeen Dagblad

Your complete environment in soccer is altering so quick and in two decades the disagreement between the massive leagues and smaller ones enjoy the Dutch league will in all probability be even wider. I in reality do now not know if in two decades there’ll in all probability be one other abilities enjoy this one, enjoy the massive teams we saw within the Seventies and Nineties.

De Jong is already leaving, per chance Van de Beek will lunge, per chance Argentina defender Nicolas Tagliafico too.

De Ligt is awfully in all probability to head away I mediate. He’s a beautiful participant. He was the youngest ever in a Europa League closing at 17 two years within the past, and now at 19 he has already performed 75 games within the Dutch league. Finest one particular person reached that landmark at a younger age – Gerald Vanenburg, who performed for Ajax from 1980-1986.

The diagram in which De Ligt plays, the diagram in which he lives for his sport, the diagram in which he speaks, we enjoy now never seen that sooner than at his age. He’s a tidy, intellectual man, very solid. Whenever you occur to gape at him you inform he must be 30 years outmoded.

The folk of Ajax is in all probability to be dreaming a couple of hit the Champions League, however they are also scared referring to the crew breaking up.

Subsequent twelve months the crew will in all probability be very a lot of and this would possibly possibly be very onerous for Overmars to arrangement one other crew. Right here’s the moment. This twelve months it must occur for Ajax on yarn of within the subsequent years they are no longer going to arrangement it this far.

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Is Frenkie de Jong Europe’s next huge thing?
Ajax’s crew of 1983-84, with Frank Rijkaard (support row, first from left) Jan Molby (support row, 2d from correct) Marco van Basten (support row, first from correct) and Ronald Koeman (middle row, fifth from left)
Johan Cruyff and Ajax enjoy a neutral time a hit the European Cup for a third time in a row, in 1973
Ajax enjoy a neutral time their 1995 Champions League closing victory over AC Milan – they misplaced to Juventus within the 1996 closing
Van der Vaart and Sneijder performed collectively at Ajax and the Dutch national crew, as neatly as True Madrid for the length of the 2008-9 season
Ajax renamed their stadium after membership legend Johan Cruyff following his loss of life in 2016
The Johan Cruyff Arena holds about 55,000 and opened in 1996

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