Being born at the back end of the 80s, I’ve always found it strange that children today don’t see Ajax as one of the biggest football teams in the world. With recent performances in European competitions, are we finally seeing the resurgence of a footballing great?
Having won eight major European trophies between 1970 and 1995, Ajax have been a household name for any football fan over the age of 30, so why not for the football-loving children of today? Since the arrival of billionaire owners and multi-million pound TV deals around the world, Ajax have been one of a number of once huge European clubs who have seen others surpass them, however it now appears their traditional and more romantic methods of building success are starting to pay off.
I was lucky enough to spend nearly a decade coaching in an academy environment and in youth football the name of Ajax continued to carry the same weight. A list of graduates to come through the Ajax system reads like a who’s who of the greats of football, and with the current crop of gifted youngsters led by 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt, Ajax have now disposed of Real Madrid and Juventus to reach the semi-final of this season’s Champions League.
Ajax have intelligently appointed ex-players into less traditional football roles, and combining this with their hugely successful academy has allowed them to take more of a long term vision to reaching previous levels of success.
With the sale of Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona for a reported €75 million already being completed, there are natural fears that this team could suffer the same fate as the young Monaco side who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2018 and saw their star youngsters be prized away by the current football super powers.
Those within the game, however, see that Ajax are more than capable of producing more and more young stars to replace those who leave the club and this vision may just allow them to reclaim their place as one of the big names in the game.
With Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur now guaranteed a place in the Champions League final, are we finally seeing a shift in the philosophy of clubs? A shift which puts emphasis on youth, training and squad management rather than spending 8 figures on a footballing superstar? I’m not sure, but one thing I’m certain of is it’s great for football on a whole!
Blog written by Andrew Rose, Tour Consultant