Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ajax Greatest All-time team

1995 Intercontinental Cup
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for AFC Ajax.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

AFC Ajax at the time of writing has won the European Cup/Champions' league 4 times, making them the greatest teams in Europe.  The club began its rise in the late 1960's.  It reached the Final in 1969, where it lost to AC Milan.  Two years later, the club finally achieved the ultimate price, winning the cup and they would win the Cup three, straight times.  Led by Johan Cruyff, they would play a style of football known as Total Football.  Their successes were largely due to its football academy.  The entire team is almost consisted of home grown players.  In 1995, they would win the Cup again with mainly, home grown players.  The 1995 team is considered among the best ever team in history.

Ajax won three straight European Cup in the 1970's.
GK: Edwin Van Der Sar (Holland)
Van Der Sar is the most capped player in Holland's history with 130 caps.  He went to 1994, 1998 and 2006 World Cup and Euro 1996, 2000 and 2004.  He was best remembered for being the Ajax keeper in 1995 that won the Champions' League and then, later for Manchester United for 6 seasons.  He won the Champions' League in 2007-2008. In between, he also played with Fulham and Juventus.

GK: Maaten Skekelenburg (Holland)
He was better known for his career with Ajax from 2002 and 2011. He was the backup keeper to Edwin Van de Sar during WC 2006 and Euro 2008.  He was the starting keeper as Oranje reached the WC Final in 2010.  He began his career at Ajax, playing 282 games over nine seasons and winning nine honours including two Eredivisie titles. Stekelenburg went on to play for Roma, Fulham, Monaco, Southampton and Everton.

GK: Piet Schrijvers (Holland)
He played with DWS and Twente before joining Ajax in 1974.  He spent nine years with AFC Ajax, winning five Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups.  Between 1971 and 1984, he played 46 times for Holland. He was the backup keeper at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and the starter in 1978.

RB: Wim Suurbier (Holland)
Suurbier is considered among the best ever rightback in history.  He was the starting rightback for Oranje at the 1974 World Cup in Germany as well as the great Ajax team of the early 1970's where he played 13 seasons. He won three European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's. He also played club football in France, the USA and Hong Kong.
Wim Suuribier
RB: Michael Reiziger (Holland)
He was a member of the Golden Generation from Ajax that won Champions League with Ajax in 1995.  After a brief stint with AC Milan, he moved to Barcelona in 1997.  He was capped 70 times for Holland.  In 2004, Reiziger moved to Middlesbrough on a Bosman transfer. 

CB: Velibor Vasovic (Yugoslavia)
He was a legend at FK Partizan.  He lost the European Cup to Real Madrid in 1966.  A year later, he later joined Ajax and established himself as one of the best defenders in Europe.  In 1971, he captained Ajax as they won their first European Cup.  He played 32 times for Yugoslavia.

CB/LB: Frank De Boer (Holland)
At one point, Frank De Boer was Holland's most capped player. He was a part of Ajax's Champions' League winning team in 1995.  He was an important player in the late 1990's. He captained the Oranje to the semi-finals of both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000.  He also played with Barcelona for 6 years. His twin brother Ronald also played with him for Oranje.

CB/DM: Arie Haan (Holland)
Haan won three European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's as member of that great club team.  In 1975, he moved to Anderlecht and became a part of the club's most successful team, winning two Cup Winners' Cup.  He also joined Standard Liege and reached the Final of 1982 Cup Winners' cup Final.  He later joined PSV late in his career before playing in Hong Kong. He was a key player at both WC Finals in 1974 and 1978.  in 1978, he scored two long range goals that were considered among the best ever goals at the WC Finals.
Arie Haan
CB: Cor Van der Hart (Holland)
He became the third Dutch player in history to play board and one of the first professional player in Holland when he joined Lille in 1950.  Before that, he played for Ajax.  Widely considered one of the best Dutch defender in history.  He had 44 caps, but the cap total largely was limited because the KNVB suspended all players that left the country to play professional football. 

CB: Barry Hulshoff (Holland)
Hulshoff was a part of the legendary Ajax team that won three European Cups in 1971, 1972 and 1973.  He earned 12 caps for the Netherlands national football team.  He represented Holland at the WC Finals in 1974.

LB/SW:  Ruud Krol  (Holland)
Krol was one of the most important defender in Holland's history.  Capped 83 times. He helped Oranje to reach the WC Final in both 1974 and 1978.  He was a leftback at the World Cup in 1974 and switched to sweeper later in his career.  He won three straight European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's. He also played in Italy with Napoli, in France with Cannes and the NASL with Vancouver Whitecaps.
Ruud Krol
DM: Jan Wouters (Holland)
Wouters was a key player for Holland in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He had over 70 caps.  He won the European Championship in 1988 and also made the team of the tournament.  He was Dutch Player of the Year in 1990.  For his club career,  He played for FC Utrecht between 1980 and 1986.  In 1986, he joined Ajax, where he played until 1992.  He also played for Bayern Munich and PSV Eindhoven.

CM: Frank Rijkaard (Holland)
Frank Rijkaard was one of Holland's most important player.  Capped 73 times.  He won the 1988 European Championship in West Germany. He notably played for Ajax and AC Milan. He spent 5 seasons with AC Milan when Milan was considered the greatest club team in the world.  He won two European Cup with them. In 1995, he led a young Ajax team to their famous Champions' League victory.  That team is also considered one of the greatest club sides ever.
Rijkaard with a young Kluivert
CM: Johan Neeskens
He was considered to be one of the greatest Dutch midfielders. He had 49 caps for Holland.  Her led Holland to two second place finishes at the WC Finals in 1974 and 1978.  He was Holland's top scorer at the 1974 World Cup.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax: 1971, 1972, 1973. He also played with Barcelona and NY Cosmos.

CM/DM: Edgar Davids (Holland)
Nicknamed "the Pitbull", he was one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world.  He won the European Champions' League with Ajax in 1995.  He was an important player at the WC Finals in 1998 when Holland reached the semi-final. He also spent 7 seasons with Juventus at the height of his career. He also played for Tottenham Hotspurs, Barcelona, AC Milan, etc.

CM/LM: Clarence Seedorf (Holland)
Seedorf is the first player to win three Champion League titles with 3 different clubs. He was a member of the Golden Generation from Ajax that won Champions League in 1995.  In 1996, he moved to Real Madrid, where he quickly established himself as a star.  He would win two Champions League title there.  He later played for both AC Milan and Inter Milan.  He was a key player for the Dutch national team.

Seedorf vs Ronaldo
LW/RW: Marc Overmars (Holland)
Known for his speed, Overmars was a member of the youthful Ajax team that won the European cup in 1995. He moved to Arsenal in 1997, where he starred playing under Arsene Wenger.  He won the Double in 1997-1998.  He later moved to Barcelona and Go Ahead Eagles. His career with Oranja lasted from 1993 to 2004, and was an important player.  He won the Best Young Player Award at USA 1994. 

LW: Piet Keizer (Holland)
Widely considered to be as good as Johan Cruyff while the two of them played together at Ajax, but his career was overshadowed by Cruyff.  He was a part of the glorious Ajax team in the 1970's, but only managed one appearance at the WC Finals in 1974.  In 1973, he was voted by his teammates to become Ajax's captain ahead of Cruyff.  Cruyff would leave the team a few weeks later. 

AM: Jari Litmanen (Finland)
He is probably Finland's greatest player.  He became the first Finnish footballing superstar while playing for Ajax in the mid-1990s, winning the Champions League in 1995, the peak year of his career. The team was regarded one of the greatest club sides in recent history. He also played for Barcelona and Liverpool.  He earned 137 caps for Finland.

AM: Wesley Sneijder (Holland)
Sneijder emerged from the Ajax Academy before making to the first team in 2002.  He moved to Real Madrid in 2007, where he won a La Liga title in 2006-2007.  He also won a Champions' League title with Inter Milan in 2009-2010.  At the time of writing, he has 114 caps for Holland.  He was the star player for Holland as they reached the Final of South Africa 2010. He won the Silver Ball.  He moved to Galatasaray in 2013.
Wesley Sneijder
RW/FW: Johnny Rep (Holland)
Rep was a part of Holland's Golden Generation in the 1970's.  Rep scored the winning goal for Ajax Amsterdam against Juventus in the 1973 European Cup final in Belgrade. He also helped SC Bastia reach the finals of the 1978 UEFA Cup.  Rep joined St-Etienne in 1979 and was part of the side that included Michel Platini.  He was a part of Holland's amazing team at the WC Finals in 1974.  He picked up 42 caps.

FW: Johan Cruyff (Holland)
Cruyff is the greatest Dutch player ever.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974.  He was considered one of the best players in history.  He was noted for his brilliant performance at the World Cup in 1974.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's.  He moved to Barcelona in 1973 for a world record transfer fees, where he became a legend.  He also played in the NASL.
Johan Cruyff
FW: Dennis Bergkamp (Holland)
Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  He helped Holland to reach the semi-final of the 1998 WC Finals in France.  His goal vs Argentina at was considered among the best ever scored in WC history.  Bergkamp surpassed Faas Wilkes's record to become the country's top goalscorer of all time in 1998. He started with Ajax and played for Inter Milan.  He also had a successful career with Arsenal.
Dennis Bergkamp
ST: Patrick Kluivert (Holland)
The teenage star of the great Ajax team of 1995.  He was also a star with Barcelona.  He joined Milan in 1997, but he quickly left for Barcelona a season later.  He had a relatively successes at the club, but left for Newcastle United in 2004.  His career was never the same due to injuries.  He was an important part of the national team from 1996 to 2004.  However, his career was shortened due to various issues.

ST:  Marco Van Basten (Holland)
He was probably the second best Dutch player and among the best striker in football's history.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times.  He led Oranje to the victory at Euro 1988 scoring 5 goals at the tournament.  His goal in the Final is considered one of the best in history of the tournament. He started his career with Ajax.  He also won two European Cups with AC Milan, a club team that was considered the best ever.  
Marco Van Basten

Honorable Mention
Bryan Roy, Rafael Van der Vaart, Wim Jonk, Gerrie Muhren, Arnold Muhren, Piet Schrijvers Tschen La Ling, John Heitinga, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Simon Tahamata, Winston Bogarde, Gerald Vanenburg, Aron Winter, Nigel De Jong, Ronald De Boer, Richard Witschge, Finidi George, Kwankwo Kanu, Ruud Geels, Sjaak Swart, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Heinz Shruy, Eddy Pieters Graafland, Piet Schrijvers.

Squad Explanation
-- The majority of the squad is home grown.
-- Zlatan Ibrahimovic played as many games as Patrick Kluivert and scored as many goals at Ajax. Luis Suarez's numbers were even better.  However, Kluivert was a Champions' League winning hero and a home grown talent.  Thus, Kluivert made the team.
-- Michael Reiziger made the squad ahead of bigger names because the team needed a backup rightback. 
-- Danny Blind was one of the last players dropped.  I ranked him behind Haan, De Boer, Vasovic, Hulshoff, and Van de Hart.  Krol can also play as a sweeper/centerback.
-- I was deciding between Wim Jonk, Gerrie Muhren and Jan Wouters.  I selected Wouters because he had the most international experience.
-- Too many, great left-sided wingers/midfielders so Roy was left out.
-- Frank De Boer is also the backup left back.
-- Sjaak Swart played over 600 matches for Ajax, but too, many great players ahead of him.
-- Jaap Stam's best years were spent elsewhere.  He was not considered.  Michael and Brian Laudrup too.

This is the classic formation used by Ajax and Holland in the 1970's.  I changed the tactics so that I could include Van Basten.  Both Ajax and Holland in the 1970's did not have a striker liked Van Basten.  

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