Words by Neil Boardman
De Jong, De ligt, Tadic & co. are names that many football fans have been familiar with for a number of years. However, I doubt many would have predicted that they would be the biggest names on everyone’s lips going in to the semi finals of this years Champions League.
We have all grown up on a planet that considers Ajax to be one of the biggest teams in world football. A global icon of a football club that is world renowned for its youth academy and revolutionary style of play. However, in recent years the force that is Ajax has been less recognisable, compared to the club that once was.
Four-time European cup winners and one of only four teams to have won the continental treble, Ajax are one of the most successful teams in world football. But it seems that through the 21st century, ‘de Godenzonen’ have become a victim of their own success – losing their winning touch and having to settle for being ‘just’ Dutch champions most years.
However, it seems that the footballing gods have blessed the Amsterdam residents with a new lease of life. A combination of top quality homegrown talent from Jong Ajax and the footballing mind of Erik ten Hag has brought Ajax back into the big time – and it’s bloody wonderful to see.
With fearless performances at two of the world’s most fearful grounds – the homes of Real Madrid and Juventus, Ajax played like they know they can. Cutting-edge, attacking football is what the club is so famous for and that’s what we are seeing in 2019 – a team full of youth playing the football that they want to play
In a depressing time in the world (and, often, football) sometimes all we need to cheer ourselves up in the middle of a week, is a nice pint of European lager to sip whilst watching a few blokes (probably a lot younger and cooler than us) kick around a football in a manner that makes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos cry. It’s Ajax that are helping us do that – as the title of this article suggests, it’s exciting.
Some said that Ajax’s dream wasn’t sustainable after the night in Madrid, however, their antics in Turin have declared to the world that Ajax are back. When the football, they are producing, is this nice, it is hard not to get behind it. Admit it to yourself, it would be great to see the underdogs go all the way and win it, wouldn’t it? A story that would ensure this Ajax’s teams place in history, before, inevitably, all these really lovely players go and start playing in posh towns in Spain for half a million a week.
All in all, this season’s Ajax team sums up what I love about football. It gets me buzzing for midweek nights and that’s what the European cup is all about. With the club reaching their first European cup semi final since 1997, they have the credentials to go all the way. Into them Ajax – you have my backing.