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Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax ( ), also referred to as AFC Ajax, Ajax Amsterdam or simply Ajax, is a professional football club from Amsterdammarker, Netherlandsmarker. The club is historically one of the three clubs that dominate the Dutch national football league (Eredivisie), the others being PSV and Feyenoord.

Ajax is historically one of the most successful clubs of the world; according to the IFFHS, Ajax were the seventh 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 European treble by winning the Dutch Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, and the European Cup; to date, they are the only team to keep the European Cup and accomplish the European treble. Ajax's last international trophies were the 1995 Intercontinental Cup and the 1995 Champions League, where they defeated Milan in the final; they lost the 1996 Champions League final on penalties to Juventus.

They are also one of two teams to win the treble and the Intercontinental Cup in the same season/calendar year; This was achieved in the 1971-72 season. Ajax, Juventus, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich, are the four clubs to have won all three major European trophies. 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.

Amateur Era

The club was founded in Amsterdam on March 18, 1900 by Floris Stempel, Carel Reeser and Johan Dade.

It was the second incarnation, after a short-lived previous attempt (as the Footh-Ball Club Ajax) in 1894.

The club were named after the mythological hero Ajax , a Greek who fought in the Trojan War against Troymarker. In The Iliad, Ajax was said to be the greatest of all the Greeks next to his cousin Achilles, and even fought an inconclusive duel with Troy's champion Hector. According to most accounts, Ajax died after committing suicide, thus unlike Achilles, he died unconquered.

Ajax succeeded in promotion to the highest level of Dutch football in 1911, under the guidance of Jack Kirwan (their first official coach). The promotion meant that Ajax were forced to alter the club's strip, as Sparta of Rotterdammarker had the same kit, red-white vertical stripes with black shorts. Ajax adopted a broad vertical red stripe on a white background with white shorts, the club's kit to this day.

Although their efforts were not unnoticed (Gé Fortgens became a frequent member of the Dutch national team for a while) they were relegated in 1914. While they immediately bounced back, they had to wait until 1917 to regain higher level status again: they did become league champions in both 1915 and 1916, however the 1915 league was declared unofficial (due to World War I), whereas in 1916 they did not make it through the promotion round.

Under the guidance of Jack Reynolds (Kirwan's successor as of 1915) the club was promoted to the highest level in 1917 and won the Dutch national cup final, defeating VSV 5-0. Ajax went on to win their first national championship in 1918. The championship was secured in Tilburgmarker where they faced Willem II without Jan de Natris, arguably the club's first 'star player', who missed the train to Tilburg and opted to stay in Amsterdam instead - earning him a fine of 10 cents. In the following season he earned a six month ban, but Ajax did well in his absence: not only did they retain the championship title, their 1919 campaign was also an unbeaten run for them - an accomplishment that was only repeated 76 years later by Ajax themselves.

Now a regular contender for the Western Regional championship in the Netherlands, Ajax marched through the twenties with regional titles in 1921, 1927 and 1928, next to a few minor cups. The 1930s would prove to be more successful however; with household names as Wim Anderiesen Sr., Dolf van Kol, Piet Strijbosch, Wim Volkers, Jan van Diepenbeek, Bob ten Have, Erwin van Wijngaarden and prolific striker Piet van Reenen, Ajax' period from the late twenties until World War II was so successful that many people dubbed it 'the golden age' (a reference to the 17th century, the heyday of the Dutch Republic).

With eight regional titles (1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939) and 5 national championships (1931, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1939) Ajax was the most successful team of that era in the country. The thirties were also notable for the final culmination of the rivalry with Feyenoord, another squad that earned many awards in that time, as well as the creation of the stadium 'het Ajax-Stadion' dubbed 'De Meer'marker (named after the borough of its residence). Until the emergence of the Amsterdam ArenAmarker in 1996, this was Ajax' home ground together with the Olympic Stadiummarker for the bigger games.

As of the 1940s, perhaps in line with Jack Reynolds' retirement (he had stayed - save for a few spells of absence - on for the entire time as Ajax' manager since his entry in 1915), Ajax went through a period of rebuilding. Gerrit Fischer and Erwin van Wijngaarden were retained, with Joop Stoffelen, Guus Dräger, Gé van Dijk, Jan Potharst and later Rinus Michels and Cor van der Hart brought in. After a Cup Final victory in 1943, Ajax went on to finish second in the championship league in 1946 (behind HFC Haarlem) followed by a league championship win in 1947.

They became regional champions in 1950 again, though they never came near winning the championship. The season was notable for a match against SC Heerenveen, with Heerenveen coming back from 5-1 down to win 6-5. In 1941, Ajax performed the opposite: after being 6-0 behind to VUC in The Haguemarker they managed to pull out a draw in the end (6-6).

Until 1954, the year that professional football was introduced in the Netherlands, Ajax had some minor successes, with the regional title in 1952 and a second place in the regional championship in 1954 (equal in points with fellow Amsterdam club Door Wilskracht Sterk).

Professional football and the road to the top

In 1955, professional football was finally permitted in the Netherlands. Ajax was still far from the international top, as was demonstrated in the European Cup match against Vasas SC, where they were beaten by the Hungarians 4-0 in the Népstadionmarker). Similar European failures followed in 1960, with Ajax being knocked out by the Norwegian amateurs of Fredrikstad FK and in the Cup Winners' Cup in 1961 by Újpest FC of Ferenc Bene.

Ajax achieved some success on the domestic level, earning the first Eredivisie-championship in 1957 and again in 1960 - the 1960 title decided by a playoff after equalling in points with arch-rivals Feyenoord. Ajax cruised to a 5-1 victory with a hat trick by striker Wim Bleijenberg.

Bleijenberg was not the top scorer however. Henk Groot - the younger brother of Cees Groot who scored 100 goals for Ajax in his 5 year stay - arrived in 1959 from Stormvogels and scored 38 goals in 1959/60 and 41 goals in 1960/61. He was a vital part of Ajax in the early sixties, replacing star striker Piet van der Kuil who left for PSV in 1960. Alongside the man who would later become Mister Ajax, Sjaak Swart, Co Prins, Ton Pronk, Bennie Muller and a young Piet Keizer, Ajax added the National Cup in 1961 and the Intertoto Cup 1962 to their trophy cabinet.

After missing out on the championship after a 5-2 defeat against PSV in 1963, Ajax entered a period of decline in the national league. Henk Groot left to Feyenoord that summer, and in 1964/65 they were near relegation. Things improved after former player Rinus Michels replaced Vic Buckingham as the head manager. Ajax managed to secure a midtable spot under Michels; however Buckingham's second tenure saw the introduction of Johan Cruyff during a 3-1 loss at GVAV.

Michels started a revolution in Amsterdam, beginning with the return of Henk Groot and Co Prins, as well as the signing of goalkeeper Gert Bals. Michels built a side around the vision of Total Football, sacrificing players who he considered not to be good enough or fit the style of play. The most notable example of this was defender Frits Soetekouw - replaced by Ajax' new captain Velibor Vasović - whose own goal aided the victory of Dukla Prague in the quarter-final of the European Cup in 1966/67, after Ajax had knocked out Beşiktaş and defeated Liverpool 5-1.

Ajax sealed their second consecutive championship in 1967. They were not as dominant as the previous year, but with a seemingly unstoppable attack they scored no less than 122 goals (still a national record), of which 33 were from Johan Cruijff, at 20 years old already the star player. It was also the season for another important milestone: for the first time in history, Ajax won the double (after defeating NAC in the cup final).

It earned them European Cup qualification, being knocked out by Real Madrid in the subsequent season, with Veloso scoring the winner for Los Merengues in extra time after two 1-1 draws, results which greatly enhanced the reputation of the club.

Ajax won the Dutch title of 1968 overhauling Feyenoord, the league leaders for much of the season, and reached the European Cup final of 1969 in Madridmarker against AC Milan. In qualifying for the European Cup final Ajax defeated FC Nuremberg in the first round. They were almost knocked out by Benfica in the second, losing 3-1 to them in Amsterdam but winning the second leg in Lisbon 3-1. The decisive third match in neutral Paris was won 3-0 through goals by Inge Danielsson (2) and Johan Cruyff. They repeated this score at home against the next opponent, Spartak Trnava in the next round, but struggled in the second leg qualifying narrowly on aggregate. In the final, Milan - lauded for their excellent defense and counter-attacks - easily won 4-1 with Pierino Prati opening the scoring after seven minutes and going on to score a hattrick, while Velibor Vasović was the only Ajax player on the scoresheet with a penalty. Milan's win was capped by a goal by Angelo Sormani.

Gloria Ajax - European dominance and treble

Following their loss in the European Cup final, Ajax entered another period of rebuilding. Among the new additions were national top scorer Dick van Dijk and midfielders Gerrie Mühren and Nico Rijnders, while a second team player, Ruud Krol, was promoted to the first eleven. They replaced Klaas Nuninga, Inge Danielsson, Theo van Duijvenbode (all sold to other clubs) and Henk Groot, who retired from football after an injury while playing against Poland. Ton Pronk and Bennie Muller were no longer as frequently in the first eleven after many years of service.

In 1969-70 Ajax won the Dutch league championship, winning 27 out of 34 games and scoring 100 goals. Feyenoord remained in contention throughout the season, but they had to settle for second place. Both clubs won a trophy however, with Ajax winning the Eredivisie title while Feyenoord captured the European Cup. Ajax reached the semi-finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1970 (being knocked out by Arsenal after defeating Hannover 96, Napoli, Ruch Chorzów, and Carl Zeiss Jena)

1971 became the long awaited year of glory, with Ajax winning trophies at both domestic and European level. For a substantial part of the season Ajax seemed to be on their way to the European treble (a feat only previously performed by Celtic in 1967). Domestically, Ajax finished second to Feyenoord in the league, winning the KNVB Cup after a replayed final against Sparta. In Europe, Ajax defeated 17 Nëntori, FC Basel, Celtic and Atlético Madrid en route to the 1971 European Cup final played at Wembleymarker on June 2. There, 83,000 spectators witnessed a 2-0 victory over Panathinaikos, with goals from Dick van Dijk and an Arie Haan shot deflected by defender Kapsis. Captain Vasović could finally lift the European Cup, having lost two previous finals in 1966 with FK Partizan and again in 1969.

In the following years Ajax established itself as the foremost club in European football. Stefan Kovacs replaced coach Michels in 1971, while Rijnders and Vasović' departed in the same year. Van Dijk's departed in 1972. Such changes in the side and management did not disrupt the success of the club, with Ajax completing the treble of European Cup, Dutch National Championship and the KNVB Cup in 1972 to which was added the Intercontinental Cup. In 1973, Ajax won a third consecutive European Cup and another Dutch championship; however, failure in the KNVB Cup meant Ajax missed out on a second consecutive treble.

The departure of Johan Cruyff for FC Barcelona in 1973 signalled the end of the period of success, effectively ending the reign of the so called 'Twelve Apostles' (The usual line-up Heinz Stuy, Wim Suurbier, Barry Hulshoff, Horst Blankenburg, Ruud Krol, Arie Haan, Johan Neeskens, Gerrie Mühren, Sjaak Swart, Johan Cruyff, Piet Keizer plus the usual twelfth man who was Ruud Suurendonk until 1972 and then Johnny Rep). Whereas clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Internazionale, Arsenal, Juventus and Independiente were beaten by Ajax between 1971 and 1973, failure in the European Cup at the hands of CSKA Sofia in late 1973 signalled the decline of Ajax in European football.

Nevertheless, the Total Football that they had propagated became a lasting memory for many football fans, contributing to the Dutch national team reaching the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup using similar tactics. The decline of Ajax and the loss to the Germans in the World Cup final saw the end of the Total Football era; later Ajax manager Tomislav Ivić would dub the era 'Gloria Ajax', illustrating the impact of their years at the top.

The 1st Renaissance and 1980s

After a period of decline, in 1977, Ivić coached Ajax to their first domestic championship since 1973. Ajax returned to domestic success winning 5 league championships after '77 as well as 4 cups, though impressive European performances were sparse. Ajax were knocked out by Juventus in the quarter-finals of the European Cup in 1978 and reached a European Cup semi-final in 1980, losing to eventual winners, the Brian Clough-managed Nottingham Forest. Disappointing European form between 1980 and 1986 saw the club not getting past the second round for six years in a row. Johan Cruyff returned to the club in 1981, with the club producing some talented youngsters in the mid-1980s such as Wim Kieft, John van 't Schip, Marco van Basten, Gerald Vanenburg, Jesper Olsen, and Frank Rijkaard.

After leaving the club in 1983 after a conflict with president Harmsen, Cruyff returned once again in 1985 as the new manager.Cruijff's attacking tactics were immediately illustrated in his first active season, where Ajax ended the season with 120 goals in total, of which 37 were from Ajax's new star player Marco van Basten. Despite this, Ajax finished as runners up in the league to PSV Eindhoven twice in a row in '85/'86 and '86/'87. Despite the lack of domestic league success, Cruyff's Ajax won the '87 Cup Winners Cup, beating Lokomotive Leipzig. They reached the final again in the following season, losing out to KV Mechelen.

Cruyff departed prior to the second Cup Winners Cup final, as a result of the declining results in the national league. With most of the 80's stars such as van Basten also leaving, Ajax once again declined. They continued to compete for the title with PSV in subsequent years, who became the dominant club in European and Dutch football, matching Ajax's 1972 achievement of a continental treble in 1988. Negative aspects of the period 1988-1991 were the fraud-case in 1989 and a year long ban from European competition in 1990-91 following an incident whereby a fan threw an iron bar at the Austria Wien goalkeeper during a UEFA Cup tie in the 1989-1990 season. Under manager Leo Beenhakker, Ajax went on to win the championship race with PSV in 1990. They almost won the league again in 1991, losing narrowly to PSV.

Van Gaal, European Success and Decline

On departure to Real Madrid in 1991, Beenhakker was replaced by Louis van Gaal, the former assistant-coach. Like Cruyff, van Gaal rapidly made his mark by altering Ajax' tactics. Also like Cruyff, his efforts were rewarded in his first season at the helm by winning the 1992 UEFA Cup after a thrilling final against AC Torino. Although he did not play the final, the tournament saw the arrival of Dennis Bergkamp who contributed six goals during the competition. Despite Bergkamp being the top goalscorer in Dutch football in 1991, 1992, Ajax once again finished as runners up to PSV in the league. In 1992/93 Ajax even had to settle for a third spot, for first time since 1984, but won the KNVB Cup.

In 1993, Bergkamp and Wim Jonk left to Internazionale, allowing Finn Jari Litmanen to establish himself as the new number 10 of Ajax. Aside from Litmanen, Ajax attracted Finidi George and the return of Frank Rijkaard, providing a base for van Gaal to build on.

The 1994-95 season saw the return of European success after two decades, with Ajax winning the UEFA Champions League 1994-95 and the league title. The season saw an unbeaten run in the national league and the final season for Frank Rijkaard, while striker Patrick Kluivert had an excellent start to his season, with the then 18-year-old coming off the bench to score a late winner to beat AC Milan in the final of the Champions League. Ajax went on to beat Brazilian side Grêmio on penalties to win the Intercontinental Cup. The following season, Ajax continued to succeed on the European front, succumbing only to Juventus on penalties in the European Cup final.

However, the subsequent period saw the departure of manager van Gaal along with an exodus of many key players, several on free transfers following the Bosman ruling. Clarence Seedorf departed in 1995; Edgar Davids, Michael Reiziger, Finidi George, and Nwankwo Kanu in 1996; Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, and Winston Bogarde in 1997; Ronald de Boer and Frank de Boer in 1998; and Edwin van der Sar and Jari Litmanen in 1999, together with the retirement of Frank Rijkaard in 1995 and Danny Blind in 1999. Van Gaal's replacement, Morten Olsen, attracted Danish national team captain Michael Laudrup to the club. Ajax won the league championship and the Dutch cup. Despite this success, Olsen could not replace the key players who had departed or maintain the success under van Gaal. In Olsen's second year at the club, tension arose between Olsen and the Dutch players Ronald de Boer and Frank de Boer, and Olsen was sacked in 1998. In 1999, Ajax finished 6th in the league, their lowest position in over 20 years.

Recent events

Since the lost Champions League final in 1996, Ajax have struggled to return to European success. In the 2002–03 season, led by captain Cristian Chivu, Rafael van der Vaart, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Mido, and the return of a legend in Jari Litmanen, manager Ronald Koeman guided a new crop of exciting young talents to the Champions League quarter finals against AC Milan, losing only to a last minute winner in the second-leg encounter at the San Siromarker.



Koeman's early success was short-lived. In 2005, he resigned after Ajax's defeat to AJ Auxerre in the UEFA Cup tournament. This resignation was also the aftermath of Koeman's long-standing spat with then football director Louis van Gaal who had questioned Koeman's managerial abilities after Ajax's dry spell in the domestic league — which saw them languishing in fifth position at the beginning of 2005. Former Ajax-player Danny Blind, who, aside from working as Koeman's technical coach and advisor, had virtually no top-level manager experience, was unveiled as their new coach. Blind instantly caused consternation by announcing that the club was to play using a 4-4-2, abandoning the Total Football-oriented 4-3-3 that has become Ajax' trademark. This season also saw the departure of key players Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong to Hamburger SV and Zlatan Ibrahimović to Juventus, while six others (Hatem Trabelsi, Tomáš Galásek, Hans Vonk, Nourdin Boukhari, Steven Pienaar, and Maxwell) revealed they would leave the club at the end of the 2005–06 season. Blind was sacked on 10 May 2006 after 422 days in charge. New coach Henk ten Cate, who won the Champions League and La Liga in 2006 as the assistant of Frank Rijkaard with FC Barcelona, gave youngsters a shot to enter the selection of the first team. Ten Cate said youngsters Jan Vertonghen and Robbert Schilder would be included in the selection, whereas Greek forward Angelos Charisteas was sold to Feyenoord.

Ajax missed out on a Champions League place in 2006–07 after their defeat against Danish side FC Copenhagen (3–2 on aggregate). As a result, Ajax played against IK Start from Norwaymarker in the first round of the UEFA Cup on 14 and 18 of September, and won the match 9–2 on aggregate (2–5 away and 4–0 home). Having then progressed through the group stages, they drew German club Werder Bremen in the round of 32. In the first leg in Germany, Ajax lost 3–0. On the return leg in Amsterdam, they rallied for two second half goals to win 3-1, but lost 4-3 on aggregate.

In the 2006-07 season Ajax also achieved some successes with ten Cate in charge. They won the Johan Cruijff Shield after a 3–1 win over rivals PSV and they also defeated AZ 8–9 on penalties in the Dutch Cup final after a 1–1 draw after extra time. Ajax was very close to clinch the Eredivisie title after deducting a 10 point deficit from PSV, but lost it on goal difference on the last matchday to PSV (PSV: 75-25, Ajax 84-35).

In the following 2007–08 season, Ajax sold two of the biggest talents: Ryan Babel for €17 million to Liverpool and Wesley Sneijder for €27 million to Real Madrid. Luis Suárez, seen as a replacement for Babel, was signed from FC Groningen. Ajax decided not to buy a replacement for Sneijder because of the difficulty in finding a similar-position type of player to replace him and also because the deal was finished close to the transfer deadline and Ajax would not rush though any signings.

The fact that they did not find any replacement for Sneijder, backed with Edgar Davids's broken leg, disrupted the preparation for the qualification games for a Champions League place. Opponent Slavia Prague won both matches; with a 2–1 scoreline in Praguemarker and 0–1 victory in Amsterdam. The failure to clinch a position in the Champions League group stage led to great criticism from both the supporters and the media, mainly directed at Henk ten Cate and the board of directors. A 1–0 victory over PSV for the Johan Cruijff Shield could not make up for the loss of a Champions League spot. Despite quite a good start in the competition with a lot of goals from both Luis Suárez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ajax lost ground again in Europe after not making it to the group phase of the UEFA Cup; managing a 0–1 win away against Dinamo Zagreb but lost the tie in Amsterdam after extra time with the score 2-3 to Dinamo. With these string of European failures, coach Ten Cate wasn't able to carry the team through to the Champions League group stage for two seasons in a row and no European football at the ArenA for the remainder of the 2007–08 season. With these disappointing results, ten Cate lost the confidence of the supporters who demanded that the board sack him. A more viable solution came when Chelsea (in the same week) offered ten Cate the job of assistant manager with a 3-year deal. On 9 October, ten Cate left Ajax. Adrie Koster was selected to helm the squad. On 29 October 2007, captain Jaap Stam announced his immediate retirement from professional football because of a lack of motivation to continue. Ajax finished the season second and, following the Play-offs, qualified for the UEFA Cup 2008–09.

Following UEFA Euro 2008, former Ajax striker Marco van Basten was appointed as the new manager, succeeding Koster. Johan Cruyff was poised to take up a new position with the club to overhaul the youth program but after a dispute with van Basten, he reneged on this commitment. Following van Basten's appointement, a host of new players were brought into the squad, including Ismaïl Aissati and Miralem Sulejmani, whose €16.25 million transfer from SC Heerenveen broke the Dutch transfer record. Van Basten chose Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as the new club captain following his appointment, but in the January 2009 transfer window Huntelaar transferred to Real Madrid (for €27 million), a decision for which Ajax were hugely criticised in the Dutch papers. The Volkskrant, for instance, referred to Ajax as a mere "trading company" which reduces its chances for a title by selling its main striker.The disappointing third place in the domestic 2008–09 season resulted in Ajax not making it to the UEFA Champions League for the 2009–10 campaign due to FC Twente taking the last allocated place for the competition. Finishing third, Ajax were to play in the newly-installed UEFA Europa League. During the season, Ajax did not take several opportunities to gain the second place, as they were trashed 6-2 by arch-rivals PSV, drew 1–1 with champions AZ, and did not take the last opportunity to overtake Twente as they were sent home by Sparta Rotterdam after a staggering 4–0 loss.

On 6 May 2009, coach Marco van Basten resigned, citing the season's results and his inability to perform better next season as main reasons. For the last game against Twente, the team was under the hands of assistant coach John van 't Schip.

On 26 May 2009 Martin Jol was presented to the media as the new coach, signing a three-year contract.

Youth program

The club is also particularly famous for its renowned youth program that has produced many Dutch talents over the years - Johan Cruyff, Edwin van der Sar, Dennis Bergkamp, national team top scorer Patrick Kluivert, and former national team coach Marco van Basten. Dutch national first-team players Ryan Babel, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, John Heitinga and Nigel de Jong had also came through the ranks at Ajax and all are now playing for top-flight clubs. 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 (now with Arsenal) and Javier Martina of the Netherlands Antillesmarker.

Ajax has also expanded its talent searching program to South Africa with Ajax Cape Town. 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 Steven Pienaar and Cameroonian Eyong Enoh. In 1995, the year that they won the Champions League, the Dutch national team was almost entirely composed of Ajax players, with goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar; players such as Michael Reiziger, Frank de Boer, and Danny Blind in defense; Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, and Clarence Seedorf in midfield; and Patrick Kluivert and Marc Overmars in attack.

Klassieker derby

Every year Ajax play Feyenoord from Rotterdammarker in the "Klassieker" ("The Classic"), a derby match between teams from the two largest cities of the Netherlands.

Satellite clubs

The following clubs are affiliated with AFC Ajax:

Logo

In 1900, when the club was founded, the emblem of Ajax was just a picture of an Ajax player. 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 new logo still sports the portrait of Ajax, but drawn with just eleven lines, symbolizing the eleven players of a football team. Many supporters still consider the new logo a break from tradition and a symbol of the modern management of the club, which is seen as being cold and money-oriented.

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 Amsterdammarker. However, when, under manager Jack Kirwan, the club got promoted 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 the exact 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.
Exterior of Stadium


Ajax's shirts have been sponsor by TDK, and by ABN AMRO from 1991 to 2008. AEGON has replaced ABN AMRO as the new head sponsor for a period of at least seven years. On 1 April 2007, Ajax wore a different sponsor for the match against Heracles Almelo: Florius. Florius is a banking program just launched by ABN AMRO who wanted it to be the shirt sponsor for one match. The shirts have been manufactured by Umbro (1989-2000) and Adidas since 2000 (until at least 2009).

Stadium

Ajax' first stadium was built in 1911 out of wood and was simply called "The Stadium". Ajax later played in the stadium that was built for the 1928 Summer Olympics, held in Amsterdam. This stadium, designed by Jan Wils, is known as the Olympic Stadiummarker. In 1934, Ajax moved to De Meer Stadionmarker in east Amsterdam, designed by architect and Ajax-member Daan Roodenburgh. The stadium could host 29.500 spectators and Ajax would continue to play there until 1996. During big European and national fixtures the club would often play at the Olympic Stadium, where the capacity was about twice as high.

In 1996, Ajax moved to a new home ground in the southeast of the city known as the Amsterdam ArenAmarker that was built at the cost of $134 million. The stadium is capable of holding approximately 52,000 people. The average attendance in 2006/07 was 48,610 people; in the next season this rose to 49,128. The Arena has a retractable roof and was the example for other modern stadiums built in Europe in the following years. In the Netherlands, the Arena has earned a reputation for having a terrible grass pitch caused by the removable roof that, even when open, takes away too much sunlight and fresh air. A during the 2008-2009 season introduced artificial lighting system has finally reduced this problem considerably.

The much-loved De Meer stadium 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, nowadays in place on the façade of the youth training grounds De Toekomst, near the Amsterdam Arena.

Ajax and Judaism

Israeli flag at the Amsterdam Arena.


Ajax is popularly seen as having "Jewish roots" and in the 1970s supporters of rival teams began taunting Ajax fans by calling them Jews. Ajax fans (few of whom are actually Jewish) responded by embracing Ajax's "Jewish" identity: calling themselves "super Jews," chanting "Jews, Jews" ("Joden, Joden") at games, and adopting Jewish symbols such as the Star of David and the Israeli flag. Some sources say that Ajax fans began doing this after seeing Tottenham Hotspur fans employing similar symbolism. This Jewish imagery eventually became a central part of Ajax fans' culture. At one point ringtones of "Hava Nagila", a Hebrew folk song, could be downloaded from the club's official website. Beginning in the 1980s, fans of Ajax's rivals escalated their antisemitic rhetoric, chanting slogans like "Hamas, Hamas/Jews to the gas" ("Hamas, hamas, joden aan het gas"), hissing to imitate the flow of gas, giving Nazi salutes, etc. The eventual result was that many (genuinely) Jewish Ajax fans stopped going to games. In the 2000s the club began trying to persuade fans to drop their Jewish image.

Fans of the Polish team Cracovia Kraków use similar symbolism.

Players and managers

Current squad

As of September 11, 2009. Source: http://www.ajax.nl

Out on loan

Retired numbers



As of the 2007-08 season, no player will wear the number 14 shirt at Ajax, since the club decided to retire the shirt out of respect for legend Johan Cruyff. Cruyff himself said that it would be better if the best player of the team would wear number 14. Spanish midfielder Roger was the last player to wear the number.

Youth squad

Staff



List of Ajax managers







Honours

Official trophies (recognized by UEFA and FIFA)

National

Final standings of Ajax 1976-2005


International



Other trophies

  • Vansdirect Trophy 2008 (shared)


See also



Bibliography

  • David Endt, De godenzonen van Ajax, Rap, Amsterdam, 1993, ISBN 90-6005-463-6
  • Jan Baltus Kok, Naar Ajax. Mobiliteitspatronen van bezoekers bij vier thuiswedstrijden van Ajax, University of Amsterdammarker, Amsterdam, 1992, ISSN 0922-5625
  • Simon Kuper, Ajax, The Dutch, The War. Football in Europe during the Second World War, Orion, London (Translation of: Ajax, de Joden en Nederland ("Ajax, the Jews, The Netherlands)", 2003, ISBN 0-7528-4274-9
  • Evert Vermeer, 95 jaar Ajax. 1900-1995, Luitingh-Sijthoff, Amsterdam, 1996, ISBN 90-245-2364-8


External links

Official


Unofficial


References

  1. with Manchester United in 1999.
  2. UEFA sanctioned the UEFA Supercup for the first time in 1973. In 1972 was an unofficial edition and the I Centenary of Rangers (see History of the UEFA Supercup in uefa.com).
  3. (European Cup, Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup)
  4. UEFA sanctioned the UEFA Intertoto Cup for the first time in 1995. In 1960s, it was unofficial. See History of UEFA Intertoto Cup in uefa.com.
  5. "Ajax - 1893-1900: De pre-historie". AFC Ajax. Retrieved on 2009-06-14
  6. History of the Ajax logo
  7. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9404E7DB153FF93BA15750C0A9639C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1
  8. http://books.google.com/books?id=i21W_KN_iUMC&lpg=PA197&dq=ajax%20jews&client=safari&pg=PA196
  9. http://www.ajax-usa.com/desk/ajax-and-the-jewish-issue.html
  10. http://books.google.com/books?id=Iye9CDk0X_IC&lpg=PA240&dq=ajax%20jews&client=safari&pg=PA240
  11. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9404E7DB153FF93BA15750C0A9639C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2
  12. Football Europe: AFC Ajax; uefa.com
  13. UEFA sanctioned the UEFA Supercup for the first time in 1973. In 1972 was an unofficial edition and the I Centenary of Rangers FC (see History of the UEFA Supercup in uefa.com).
  14. Hardgras



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