Ajax Amsterdam,Holland (1997-1999)
Ajax Amsterdam,the Home of Total Football!
At Ajax Amsterdam it quickly dawned on me that this was the beginning of the big leagues.It is in all ramifications a top world class club.Organisation,infrastructure,youth development programs.
Arriving here I was conscious now I was officially playing for the team that introduced “Total football” to the world. The team where Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff laid his foundation
The year prior to my transfer to Ajax Amsterdam, the team performed below their expected standards. They finished fourth on the league table and just managed to qualify for the UEFA cup.
The transition to the ultra modern Amsterdam Arena was probably too heavy to bear and the Current coach Louis Van Gaal’s decision to leave at the season end was not helpful neither.
The seasons prior to that, AJAX were immensely successful: winning the national league, champion’s league and world club’s cup amongst others.
I was transferred in company of 9 other new players whilst players like Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and others left the club for new adventures. A new team had to be built. However there was a familiar face waiting for me when I got there: Morten Olsen. My former coach in 1 FC KOLN was now coach of Ajax Amsterdam.
At Ajax, every day felt like a school day. I was always learning something new, be it tactics, technical or social details.At this club everything was thought out before hand.
The way to defend, attack, keep the ball in the team, were always prepared and rehearsed like in a theatre. We had to win at all costs by playing beautiful “Ajax” football. (Possession oriented, technical football)
The season opener had us pitched at home against Vitesse Arnhem.We won by a resounding 5-0 and I was fortunate to score one of the most beautiful goals of my career.
Ajax Victory Celebration
Playing alongside players like Michael Laudrup, Shota Arveladze, Edwin Van Der Sar, Jari Litmanen, Benny Mccarthy, Danny Blind, Richard Witschge,Frank De Boer,Tijani Babangida,Ronald De Boer etc was a great honour and learning experience; not to talk of the input of great personalities like Morten Olsen, Bob Haarms(R.i.p) Laszlo and David Endt. The occasional comments from the Great Johan Cruijff were also great for learning.
I improved many aspects of my game: my shooting, passing and self esteem playing for Ajax. I also won my first silverware at club level; the league title and twice that beautiful national cup (the Beker). With this I completed my baggage as a pro. footballer and soccer thinker.
This was the club where I learnt the most as a player, as a human being and eventually most importantly, for the first time I started thinking of what I wanted to do after my professional soccer career. There I decided I was going to do what am doing now!
With all the new experiences and motivation to continue succeeding, I decided to take up a new challenge by signing for Juventus Turin when the offer came in 1999.