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AFC Ajax

Dutch association football club

Top 10 AFC Ajax related articles

Ajax
Full nameAmsterdamsche Football Club Ajax
Nickname(s)de Godenzonen (Sons of the Gods),[1][2] de Joden (the Jews), I Lancieri (The Lancers), Lucky Ajax
Founded18 March 1900; 120 years ago (1900-03-18)
GroundJohan Cruyff Arena
Capacity54,990[3]
OwnerAFC Ajax N.V. (EuronextAJAX)
ChairmanFrank Eijken
Head coachErik ten Hag
LeagueEredivisie
2019–20Eredivisie, 1st (no title awarded)
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈaːjɑks]), also known as AFC Ajax, Ajax Amsterdam, or simply Ajax, is a Dutch professional football club based in Amsterdam, that plays in the Eredivisie, the top tier in Dutch football. Historically, Ajax (named after the legendary Greek hero) has been the most successful club in the Netherlands, with 34 Eredivisie titles and 19 KNVB Cups. It has continuously played in the Eredivisie, since the league's inception in 1956 and, along with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven, it is one of the country's "big three" clubs that have dominated that competition.

Ajax has historically been one of the most successful clubs in the world. According to the IFFHS, Ajax were the seventh-most successful European club of the 20th century and The World's Club Team of the Year in 1992.[4] According to German magazine Kicker, Ajax were the second-most successful European club of the 20th century. The club is one of the five teams that has earned the right to keep the European Cup and to wear a multiple-winner badge; they won consecutively in 1971–1973. In 1972, they completed the continental treble by winning the Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, and the European Cup. It also won the first organized UEFA Super Cup in 1972 against Glasgow Rangers (played in 1973). Ajax's last international trophies were the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, 1995 UEFA Super Cup and the 1995 Champions League, where they defeated Milan in the final; they lost the 1996 Champions League final on penalties to Juventus. In 1995, Ajax was crowned as World Team of the Year by World Soccer magazine.

Ajax is also one of four teams to win the continental treble and the Intercontinental Cup or Club World Cup in the same season/calendar year;[5] This was achieved in the 1971–72 season.[6] Ajax are one of the five clubs to have won all three major UEFA club competitions.[7] They have also won the Intercontinental Cup twice, the 1991–92 UEFA Cup, as well as the Karl Rappan Cup, a predecessor of the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 1962.[8] Ajax plays at the Johan Cruyff Arena, which opened as the Amsterdam ArenA in 1996 and was renamed in 2018. They previously played at De Meer Stadion and the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium (for international matches).

AFC Ajax Intro articles: 27

History

Ajax was founded in Amsterdam on 18 March 1900. The club achieved promotion to the highest level of Dutch football in 1911 and had its first major success in 1917, winning the KNVB Beker, the Netherlands' national cup. The following season, Ajax became national champion for the first time. The club defended its title in 1918–19, becoming the only team to achieve an unbeaten season in the Netherlands Football League Championship.[9]

Throughout the 1920s, Ajax was a strong regional power, winning the Eerste Klasse West division in 1921, 1927 and 1928, but could not maintain its success at national level. This changed in the 1930s, with the club winning five national championships (1931, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1939), making it the most successful Dutch team of the decade. Ajax won its second KNVB Cup in 1942–43, and an eighth Dutch title in 1946–47, the last season the club was managed by Englishman Jack Reynolds, who, up to this point, had overseen all of its national championship successes as well as its 1917 KNVB Cup win.[10][11]

In 1956, the first season of the Netherlands' new professional league, the Eredivisie, was played with Ajax participating as a founding member. The Amsterdam club became the first national champions under the new format and made its debut in the European Champion Clubs' Cup the following year, losing to Hungarian champions Vasas SC 6–2 on aggregate at the quarter-final stage. The team were again Eredivisie champions in 1960 and won a third KNVB Cup in 1961.[12]

Johan Cruyff played at Ajax from 1959 to 1973, and from 1981 to 1983, winning 3 European Cups; his No. 14 is the only squad number Ajax has ever retired. Cruyff came back to manage the club from 1985 to 1988.
Against Panathinaikos in the 1971 European Cup Final

In 1965, Rinus Michels, who had played for the club between 1946 and 1958, was appointed manager of Ajax, implementing his philosophy of Total Football which was to become synonymous with both Ajax and the Netherlands national team.[13][14] A year earlier, Johan Cruyff, who would go on to become the greatest Dutch footballer of all-time, made his debut.[15] Between them, Michels and Cruyff led Ajax through the most successful period in its history, winning seven Eredivisie titles, four KNVB Cups and three European Cups.

Ajax won the Dutch championship in 1966, 1967 and 1968, and reached the 1969 European Cup final, losing to Milan. During the 1966–67 season, Ajax scored a record 122 goals in an Eredivisie season and also won the KNVB Cup to achieve its first league and cup double. In 1969–70, Ajax won a fourth Dutch league championship and second league and cup double in five seasons, winning 27 out of 34 league matches and scoring 100 goals.[16]

The 1970–71 season saw Ajax retain the KNVB Cup and reach the 1971 European Cup final, where they defeated Panathinaikos 2–0 with goals from Dick van Dijk and Arie Haan to become continental champions for the first time, with Cruyff being named European Footballer of the Year. After this success, Michels departed to become manager of Barcelona and was replaced by the Romanian Ștefan Kovács. In Kovács' first season, Ajax completed a treble of the European Cup, the Eredivisie and a third consecutive KNVB Cup. The following season, the team beat Argentine club Independiente to win the 1972 Intercontinental Cup and retained their Eredivisie and European Cup titles, becoming the first club to win three consecutive European Cups since Real Madrid in the 1950s.

In 1973, Michels' Barcelona broke the world transfer record to bring Cruyff to Catalonia. Kovács also departed to become manager of the France national team, signalling the end of this period of international success.[17]

In 1976–77, Ajax won its first domestic championship in four seasons and recorded a double of the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup two years later.

The early 1980s saw the return of Johan Cruyff to the club, as well as the emergence of young players Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. The team won back-to-back Eredivisie titles in 1982 and 1983, with all three playing a significant role in the latter. After Cruyff's sale to rivals Feyenoord in 1983, Van Basten became Ajax's key player, top scoring in the Eredivisie for four seasons between 1983–84 and 1986–87.[18]

In 1985, Cruyff returned to Ajax as manager and the team ended his first season in charge with 120 goals from 34 matches. However, Ajax still finished as runner-up to PSV by eight points. The following season, Ajax again lost out on the Eredivisie title to PSV, but won the European Cup Winners' Cup, its first continental trophy in 14 years. After this, Cruyff left the club to become manager of Barcelona and Rijkaard and Van Basten were sold to Sporting CP and Milan respectively. Despite these losses, Ajax reached a second consecutive Cup Winners' Cup final in 1988, where they lost to Belgian club KV Mechelen.[19]

The 1988–89 season saw Dennis Bergkamp, a young forward who had first appeared under Cruyff in 1986, establish himself as a regular goalscorer for Ajax. Bergkamp helped Ajax to the 1989–90 Eredivisie title and was the top scorer in the division in 1990–91, 1991–92 and 1992–93. Under the management of Louis van Gaal, Ajax won the UEFA Cup in 1992 to become the second club, after Juventus, to have won all three major European club competitions.[20]

After the sale of Bergkamp to Internazionale in 1993, Van Gaal re-signed the experienced Frank Rijkaard to complement his young Ajax team featuring academy graduates Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Michael Reiziger and Winston Bogarde, as well as mercurial foreign talents Finidi George, Nwankwo Kanu and Jari Litmanen, and veteran captain Danny Blind.[21] The team regained the Dutch championship in 1993–94, and won it again in 1994–95 and 1995–96 to become the first Ajax side to win three back-to-back championships since 1968. The height of Van Gaal's success came in 1994–95, where Ajax became the first, and to date only, team to complete an entire Eredivisie season unbeaten.[22] The team also won its first European Cup since its glorious 1970s era, defeating Milan in the 1995 UEFA Champions League final 1–0, with the winning goal scored by 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert. Ajax again reached the final one year later, but were defeated on penalties by Juventus.

Ajax's return as a European force was short lived as Van Gaal and several members of the squad soon departed to some of the continent's biggest clubs. The 2000s was a lean decade for the club with only two Eredivisie championships won. However, Ajax's academy continued to produce star players such as Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart.

In 2010, Frank de Boer was appointed manager of Ajax and led the club to its first league title in seven years, and record 30th title overall, in the 2010–11 season. This was followed by back-to-back wins in 2011–12 and 2012–13 to match his three consecutive titles as a player in the 1990s. In 2013–14, Ajax were again Eredivisie champions, winning four consecutive league titles for the first time in club history.[23] After finishing as runner-up to PSV in both 2014–15 and 2015–16, De Boer resigned as Ajax head coach in May 2016.[24]

Peter Bosz took over the club and led them to the 2017 UEFA Europa League final, their first European final in 21 years. They lost to Manchester United with a lineup that was the youngest ever in a European final, averaging an age of 22 years and 282 days.[25] For the third consecutive season, they finished runner-up in the Eredivisie, this time to Feyenoord.

The 2018–19 season for Ajax involved a remarkable run in the UEFA Champions League. Due to their runner-up finish in the 2017–18 Eredivisie, Ajax entered the tournament in the second qualifying round. After successive victories against Sturm Graz, Standard Liège and Dynamo Kyiv, they qualified for the group stage. Ajax was drawn in a group with German champions Bayern Munich, Portuguese side Benfica and Greek champions AEK Athens. Ajax finished runner-up in this group, qualifying for the knockout stages, where they were drawn against three-time defending champions Real Madrid. After losing 1–2 in the first leg, they defeated Real Madrid 4–1 in the away match, stunning the defending champions in their own stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu, with an aggregate score of 5–3.[26] Dušan Tadić was awarded a perfect score of 10 by L'Équipe following the match.[27]

Thus, Ajax progressed to quarter-finals and were drawn with Italian champions Juventus. In the first leg in the Johan Cruyff Arena, they drew 1–1. In the second leg at the Juventus Stadium, Ajax came from behind to win 2–1 and 3–2 on aggregate. Matthijs de Ligt scored the winning goal for Ajax to help the team advance to its first Champions League semi-final since 1997.[28] There, they would face English side Tottenham Hotspur.

In the first leg of the semi-final, Ajax beat Tottenham 1–0 away from home.[29] In the second leg, Ajax scored twice in the first half to generate a 3–0 lead on aggregate. However, in the second half, Lucas Moura scored three times, including in the 6th minute of added time, resulting in Ajax losing via the away goals rule.[30]

Ajax were in first place on goal difference when the 2019–20 Eredivisie was declared void, preventing them being Dutch champions for the 35th time, but still qualified for the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League.[31]

UEFA ranking

As of 11 February 2020[32]
20 Benfica 69.000
21 Ajax 67.500
22 Zenit Saint Petersburg 64.000

AFC Ajax History articles: 119

Academies (Youth/Coaching)

The club is also particularly famous for its renowned youth programme that has produced many Dutch talents over the years – Johan Cruyff, Edwin van der Sar, Gerald Vanenburg, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp, Rafael van der Vaart, Patrick Kluivert, Marco van Basten, Wesley Sneijder, Maarten Stekelenburg, and Nigel de Jong have come through the ranks and are just some of the talents who've played for Ajax. Ajax also regularly supplies the Dutch national youth teams with local talent.

Due to mutual agreements with foreign clubs, the youth academy has also signed foreign players as teenagers before making first team debuts, such as Belgian defensive trio Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Vermaelen along with winger Tom De Mul, all of whom are full internationals, as well as Dutch international Vurnon Anita and Javier Martina, representing Curaçao.

Ajax has also expanded its talent searching programme to South Africa with Ajax Cape Town. Ajax Cape Town was set up with the help of Rob Moore. Ajax has also had a satellite club in the United States under the name Ajax America, until it filed for bankruptcy. There are some youth players from Ajax Cape Town that have been drafted into the Eredivisie squad, such as South African internationals Steven Pienaar, Thulani Serero and Cameroonian international Eyong Enoh.

In 1995, the year Ajax won the UEFA Champions League, the Netherlands national team was almost entirely composed of Ajax players, with Edwin van der Sar in goal; players such as Michael Reiziger, Frank de Boer and Danny Blind in defence; Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf in midfield; and Patrick Kluivert and Marc Overmars in attack.[33]

In 2011, Ajax opened its first youth academies outside the Netherlands when the club partnered up with George Kazianis and All Star Consultancy in Greece to open the Ajax Hellas Youth Academy. The offices are based in Nea Smyrni, Attica, with the main training facility located on the island of Corfu, hosting a total of 15 football youth academies throughout Greece and Cyprus. Eddie van Schaik heads the organization as coach and consultant, introducing the Ajax football philosophy at the various Greek football training camps.[34][35]

In 2016, Ajax launched the ACA (Ajax Coaching Academy) with the intention of sharing knowledge, setting up a variety of camps and clinics for both players and coaches.[36]

AFC Ajax Academies (Youth/Coaching) articles: 20

Stadiums

Ajax's first stadium was built in 1911 out of wood and was called Het Houten Stadion ("The Wooden Stadium"). Ajax later played in the Olympic Stadium built for the 1928 Summer Olympics hosted in Amsterdam. This stadium, designed by Jan Wils, is known as the Olympic Stadium. In 1934, Ajax moved to De Meer Stadion in east Amsterdam, designed by architect and Ajax-member Daan Roodenburgh, who had also designed the club's first stadium. It could accommodate 29,500 spectators and Ajax continued to play there until 1996. For big European and national fixtures the club would often play at the Olympic Stadium, which could accommodate about twice the number of spectators.

Exterior of the Johan Cruyff Arena

In 1996, Ajax moved to a new home ground in the southeast of the city known as the Amsterdam Arena, since 2018 known as the Johan Cruyff Arena. This stadium was built by the Amsterdam city authority at a cost of $134 million. The stadium is capable of holding approximately 54,990 spectators. The average attendance in 2006–07 was 48,610, rising in the next season to 49,128. The Arena has a retractable roof and set a trend for other modern stadiums built in Europe in the following years. In the Netherlands, the Arena has earned a reputation for a terrible grass pitch caused by the removable roof that, even when open, takes away too much sunlight and fresh air. During the 2008–09 season, ground staff introduced an artificial lighting system that has finally reduced this problem considerably.

The much-loved De Meer Stadion was torn down and the land was sold to the city council. A residential neighbourhood now occupies the area. The only thing left of the old stadium are the letters "AJAX", which nowadays is in place on the façade of the youth training grounds De Toekomst, near the Johan Cruyff Arena.

AFC Ajax Stadiums articles: 5

Crest and colours

Crest

In 1900, when the club was founded, the emblem of Ajax was just a picture of an Ajax player. The crest was slightly altered following the club's promotion to the top division in 1911 to match the club's new outfits. In 1928, the club logo was introduced with the head of the Greek hero Ajax. The logo was once again changed in 1990 into an abstract version of the previous one. The new logo still sports the portrait of Ajax, but drawn with just 11 lines, symbolizing the 11 players of a football team.[37]

Colours

Ajax originally played in an all-black uniform with a red sash tied around the players' waists, but that uniform was soon replaced by a red/white striped shirt and black shorts. Red, black and white are the three colours of the flag of Amsterdam. When under manager Jack Kirwan, however, the club earned promotion to the top flight of Dutch football for the first time in 1911 (then the Eerste Klasse or 'First Class', later named the Eredivisie), Ajax were forced to change their colours because Sparta Rotterdam already had exactly the same outfit. Special kits for away fixtures did not exist at the time and according to football association regulations the newcomers had to change their colours if two teams in the same league had identical uniforms. Ajax opted for white shorts and white shirt with a broad, vertical red stripe over chest and back, which still is Ajax's outfit.

AFC Ajax Crest and colours articles: 4

Financial

AFC Ajax N.V.

AFC Ajax are the only Dutch club with an Initial public offering (IPO). The club is registered as a Naamloze vennootschap (N.V.) listed on the stock exchange Euronext Amsterdam, since 17 May 1998. With a launch price of ƒ25,- (Guilders) the club managed to a bring their total revenue up to €54 million (converted) in their first year on the market.[38] After short-lived success, however, the rate dropped, at one point as low as €3.50. Criticism was brought forth that the legal grid for a naamloze vennootschap would not be suitable for a Football club, and that the sports related ambitions would suffer from the new commercial interests of the now listed Ajax. Shares of the company in the year 2008 were valued at approximately €5.90 per share.[39]

In 2008, a Commission under guidance of honorary member Uri Coronel concluded that the IPO was of no value to the club, and that measures should be taken to exit the stock exchange by purchasing back all public shares.[40] Ajax remain on the stock exchange.[41]

Sponsorship

2011 AFC Ajax team wearing their home kit by adidas with the AEGON sponsor across the chest, ahead of their UEFA Champions League match against Olympique Lyonnais.

Ajax's shirts have been sponsored by TDK from 1982 to 1991, and by ABN AMRO from 1991 to 2008. AEGON then replaced ABN AMRO as the new head sponsor for a period of seven years.[42] On 1 April 2007, Ajax wore a different sponsor for the match against Heracles Almelo, Florius. Florius is a banking programme launched by ABN AMRO who wanted it to be the shirt sponsor for one match.

The shirts have been manufactured by Le Coq Sportif (1973–1977), Puma (1977–1979),[43] Cor du Buy (1979-1980), Le Coq Sportif (1980–1984),[44] Kappa (1985–1989)[45] and Umbro (1989–2000) in the past, and by Adidas since 2000 (until at least 2025).[46][47]

At the conclusion of the 2013–14 season, Ajax won the Football shirt of the Year award for their black and rose colored away shirt by Adidas. The annual award was presented by Subside Sports, which had previously given the award to Internazionale, Juventus and the Belgium national team. It was Ajax's first time winning the award.[48]

On 7 November 2014, it was announced that Ajax had agreed to a four-and-a-half-year contract worth €8 million annually with Dutch cable operating company Ziggo as the new shirt sponsor for the club.[49] Having extended their contract with AEGON for half a season until December, the club featured Fonds Gehandicaptensport, a charitable fund for handicapped sports on its away shirts for a six-month period before transitioning to Ziggo in 2015.[50]

Kit suppliers and shirt sponsors

Kit deals

Kit Supplier Period Contract
announcement
Contract
duration
Value Notes
Adidas
2000–present[51]
13 July 2018[51]
1 July 2019 – 30 June 2025[51] 50 million for six years[52]

AFC Ajax Financial articles: 17

Other teams

Reserves team

Jong Ajax (formerly more commonly known as Ajax 2) is the reserve team of AFC Ajax. The team is composed mostly of professional footballers, who are often recent graduates from the highest youth level (Ajax A1) serving their first professional contract as a reserve, or players who are otherwise unable to play in the first team.[53]

Since 1992, Jong Ajax competed in the Beloften Eredivisie, competing against other reserve teams such as Jong PSV, Jong FC Groningen or Jong AZ. They have won the Beloften Eredivisie title a record eight times, as well as the KNVB Reserve Cup three times, making them the most successful reserve squad in the Netherlands. By winning the Beloften Eredivisie title, Jong Ajax were able to qualify for the actual KNVB Cup, even advancing to the semi-finals on three occasions. Their best result in the Dutch Cup was under manager Jan Olde Riekerink in 2001–02, when a semi-final loss to Utrecht in a Penalty shoot-out after extra time, which saw Utrecht advance, and thus preventing an Ajax–Jong Ajax Dutch Cup final.[54]

The 2013–14 season marked the Jupiler League debut of the Ajax reserves' squad, Jong Ajax.[55] Previously playing in the Beloften Eredivisie (a separate league for reserve teams, not included in the Dutch professional or amateur league structure), players were allowed to move around freely between the reserve team and the first team during the season.[56] This is no longer the case as Jong Ajax now registers and fields a separate squad from that of Ajax first team for the Eerste Divisie, the second tier of professional football in the Netherlands. Their home matches are played at Sportpark De Toekomst, except for the occasional match in the Johan Cruyff Arena. Now regarded a semi-professional team in their own respect, the only period in which players are able to move between squads are during the transfer windows, unless the player has made less than 15 appearances for the first team, then he is still eligible to appear in both first team and second team matches during the season.[57] Furthermore, the team is not eligible for promotion to the Eredivisie or to participate in the KNVB Cup. Jong Ajax were joined in the Eerste Divisie by Jong Twente and Jong PSV, reserve teams who have also moved from the Beloften Eredivisie to the Eerste Divisie, in place of VV Katwijk, SC Veendam and AGOVV Apeldoorn, increasing the total number of teams in the Jupiler League from 18 to 20.[58]

Ajax reserve squad Jong Ajax left the Beloften Eredivisie in 2013, having held a 21-year tenure in the reserves league, having also won the league title a record eight times (1994, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009).[59]

Amateur team

AFC Ajax Amateurs, better known as Ajax Zaterdag, is a Dutch amateur football club founded 18 March 1900. It is the amateur team of the professional club AFC Ajax, who play their home matches at the Sportpark De Toekomst training grounds to a capacity of 5,000. The team was promoted from the Eerste Klasse to the Hoofdklasse ahead of the 2011–12 season, the league in which they are currently competing. The team has won the Eerste Klasse title twice, as well as the *KNVB District Cup West I on two occasions as well.[60]

Furthermore, Ajax Zaterdag have also managed to qualify for the KNVB Cup on their own accord on three occasions, namely in 2004, 2005 and in 2008, even advancing to the second round before bowing out to Vitesse on 24 September 2008 during their last appearance in the cup tournament.

Women's team

AFC Ajax Vrouwen (English: AFC Ajax Women) are the women's team of AFC Ajax, competing in the BeNe League, the highest level of professional football in Belgium and the Netherlands. Founded on 18 May 2012, the women's team saw Ajax attracting many of the Netherlands top talents, with International players such as Anouk Hoogendijk, Daphne Koster and Petra Hogewoning joining the Amstedam club on its maiden season in women's professional football.[61] The team won their first piece of silverware when the defeated PSV/FC Eindhoven 2–1 in the final of the KNVB Women's Cup.

AFC Ajax Other teams articles: 24

Other sports

Baseball

Ajax HVA (1922–1972) was the baseball team of AFC Ajax founded in 1922, and competed as founding members of the Honkbal Hoofdklasse, the top flight of professional baseball in the Netherlands.[62] Ajax won the national baseball title a total of four times (1924, 1928, 1942, 1948) before the club opted to no longer field a baseball team, and to focus solely on football in 1972.[63] Ajax spent a total of 50 years at the top flight of Baseball in the Netherlands from 1922 to 1972. The dissolution of Ajax baseball club resulted in the players finding a new sponsor in a mustard manufacturing company called Luycks, while merging with the Diemen Giants to become the Luycks Giants, thus replacing both former clubs.[64]

eSports

In 2016, Ajax launched an eSports team, with Koen Weijland as the club's first signing, making their debut on the Global stage of professional gaming. They have since signed the likes of Dani Hagebeuk, Lev Vinken, Joey Calabro and Bob van Uden, the latter spent his first season on loan to the eSports team of Japanese club Sagan Tosu.[65][66][67][68]

AFC Ajax Other sports articles: 7

Affiliated clubs

The following clubs are currently affiliated with AFC Ajax:

The following clubs were affiliated with AFC Ajax in the past:

AFC Ajax Affiliated clubs articles: 22