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.
European Cup Winner 1972


Team
GK: Edwin Van Der Sar (Netherlands)
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 (Netherlands)
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 (Netherlands)
Between 1971 and 1984, Schrijvers played 46 times for Netherlands.  He was the backup keeper at both World Cup Finals in 1974, but he was the starting keeper at Euro 1976 and 1980, and the World Cup Finals in 1978. At club level, he spent nine years with AFC Ajax, winning five Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups.  He also played for DWS, FC Twente and Zwolle.  

RB: Wim Suurbier (Netherlands)
Wim 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 had over 60 caps and h also played in the 1978 World Cup. He also played club football in France, the USA and Hong Kong.
Wim Suuribier
CB: Velibor Vasovic (Yugoslavia)
Velibor Vasovic was considered one of the greatest sweeper ever played the game.  He was a legend at FK Partizan.  He lost the European Cup to Real Madrid in 1966 as the team captain.  A year later, he 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 (Netherlands)
At one point, Frank De Boer was Netherlands' 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 (Netherlands)
Haan won three European Cups with the great Ajax team of the 1970's.  In 1975, he moved to Anderlecht, winning two Cup Winners' Cup.  With Standard Liege,  he reached the Final of 1982 Cup Winners' Cup.  He later played for PSV and Seiko FC 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 (Netherlands)
He became the third Dutch player in history to play board and one of the first professional player in Netherlands 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 (Netherlands)
Barry Hulshoff was a part of the legendary Ajax team that won three straight European Cups in 1971, 1972 and 1973.  He won seven league titles. He later played Grazer AK in Austria before retiring from playing. He earned 12 caps for the Netherlands national football team.  He represented them at the World Cup Finals in 1974.

LB/SW:  Ruud Krol  (Netherlands
Ruud Krol was one of the most important defenders in Dutch history.  Capped 83 times. He helped Oranje to reach the World Cup 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 in the NASL with Vancouver Whitecaps.
Ruud Krol
CM/DM: Edgar Davids (Netherlands)
Nicknamed "the Pitbull", Edgar Davids 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 World Cup Finals in 1998 when Netherlands 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: Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands)
Frank Rijkaard was one of Netherlands' 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
RB/CM: Johan Neeskens (Netherlands)
Johan Neeskens was considered to be one of the greatest Dutch midfielders. He was a crucial component in the Total Football side of the 1970s.  He had 49 caps for Netherlands.  He led them to two second place finishes at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978.  He was Netherlands' top scorer at the 1974 World Cup Finals.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax: 1971, 1972, 1973. He also played with Barcelona FC and New York Cosmos.

CM/LM: Clarence Seedorf (Netherlands)
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.

Clarence Seedorf 
RW: Sjaak Swart (Netherlands)
Swart hide the fact that he was Jewish during the War under Nazi Occupation.  From 1956 to 1973, he played for Ajax, his only club.  He was known as "Mr.Ajax" for playing more games than anyone in the history of the club.  He was a part of the team that won three European Cups in the 1970's.  From 1960 to 1972, he picked up 31 caps for Netherlands. 

LW/RW: Marc Overmars (Netherlands)
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 (Netherlands)
Piet Keizer was 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 World Cup 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. 
Pieter Keizer
AM: Jari Litmanen (Finland)
Jari Litmanen 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 (Netherlands)
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 Netherlands.  He was the star player for Netherlands as they reached the Final of South Africa 2010. He won the Silver Ball.  He moved to Galatasaray in 2013.
Wesley Sneijder
RW/FW: Jan de Natris (Netherlands)
Jan de Natris was voted as the greatest Ajax player of the first half of the 20th Century.  He had three stints for Ajax from 1914 to 1921, 1923 to 1925 and 1928 to 1929, playing alongside with Wim Gupffert.  He also playd for Vitesse. He played for Holland in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium and the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.  

RW/FW: Johnny Rep (Netherlands)
Rep was a part of Netherlands' 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 (Netherlands)
Johan 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 (Netherlands)
Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  He helped Netherlands 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 (Netherlands)
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 (Netherlands)
Van Basten 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, Tschen La Ling, John Heitinga, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Simon Tahamata, Winston Bogarde, Wim Anderiesen, Gerald Vanenburg, Aron Winter, Nigel De Jong, Bennie Muller, Ronald De Boer, Richard Witschge, Finidi George, Kwankwo Kanu, Ruud Geels, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Heinz Shruy, Eddy Pieters Graafland, Piet Schrijvers, Danny Blind, Michael Laudrup, Brian Laudrup, Piet van Reenen, Michael Reiziger.

Squad Explanation
-- Ajax's greatest ever players are well-documented.  Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Frank Rijaard, Marco Van Basten, Denis Bergkamp and Ruud Krol are automatic selections.  Edwin Van Der Sar and Piet Keizer are also close.
-- The Ajax team of 1995 was considered one of the greatest in modern era.  I selected Edwin Van Der Sar, Jari Litmanen, Clarence Seedort, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Michael Reiziger, Marc Overmars and Frank De Boer on my all-time team.
-- The largest contingent of my team came from the 1970's, where Ajax won three straight European Cup: Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Sjaak Swart, Velibor Vasović, Piet Keizer, Wim Suurbier, Arie Haan, Ruud Krol and Barry Hulshoff.
-- The majority of the squad is home grown. Piet Schrijvers, Marc Overmars and Johan Neeskens played elsewhere before joining Ajax.  Edwin Van Sar was not from the academy, but he never played first team club football elsewhere before playing for Ajax.  Marco Van Basten was not from the academy, but he joined the club as a 16 years old and made his debut as a 17 years old.
-- Only two foreign players were selected onto the team.  Velibor Vasović was probably Ajax's most important defender after Ruud Krol.  Jari Litmanen led the young 1995 team to European glories.
-- 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.  However, in December, 2019, I did a review of the team.  I took him off the team and selected
Sjaak Swart.  He played over 600 matches for Ajax,a club record. Johan Neeskens who began as a rightback would fill in as the 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.
-- Too many, great left-sided wingers/midfielders so Bryan Roy was left out.
-- I selected younger players than Piet van Reenen, who is Ajax's all-time leading scorer.
-- Jaap Stam's best years were spent elsewhere.  He was not considered.  Besides, his position has been filled up by legends such as Velibor Vasović, Cor Van der Hart, Arie Haan, Ruud Krol and Barry Hulshoff.  Then, I selected Frank De Boer who could also play as a left back.
-- Jan de Nitrus was voted as the great Ajax player in the first half of the 20th Century.  I did not learn about him until October, 2019. I replaced Jan Wouters with him.  It was a hard decision.  I considered dropping Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars and Johnny Rep. It was a hard decision. In the end, I chose Wouters because the team already has Frank Rijkaard, Edgar Davids, Johan Neeskens and Clarence Seedorf.  Arie Haan also played as a defensive midfielder. Originally, I was deciding between Wim Jonk, Gerrie Muhren and Jan Wouters.  I selected Wouters because he had the most international experience.  As of October, 2019, I dropped Wouters.
Ajax won three straight European Cup in the 1970's.
Formation
4-3-3
This is the classic formation used by Ajax and Netherlands in the 1970's.  I changed the tactics so that I could include Van Basten.  Both Ajax and Netherlands in the 1970's did not have a striker liked Van Basten.  



2 comments:

  1. Maybe km a couple years late, bit good effort, not 100% surf of al l the picks but its ok. You left out Danny Blind of the honorable mentions, same with the Laudrup Brothers, specially Michael. And if you even considered Stam as a CB then Koeman should've been un the roster forma shure. Swart definetly should make the 25 man cut. And finally you included Schrijvers as the 3rd GK and to times un the honorable mentions.

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