What Became Of Ajax ’95 (Part 2)
Part two of this series looking at the 1995 Champions League winning team who defeated AC Milan in the final of the competition looks at the sides’ engine room, the midfield. As with the backline this quartet is also an all Dutch affair, these players amassing an impressive 301 caps for the national side between them.
Some of the greatest midfield talent to ever come out of this proud footballing nation, backed up by an impressive array of honours, individual records and awards these players have played for some of the world’s most respected clubs.
Frank Rijkaard: Another of the Ajax ’95 team that turned his hand to management once his playing days were over, winning La Liga (twice) and The Champions League with Barcelona and also coaching the Dutch national side to the semi final of Euro 2000. He currently finds himself without a club having been relieved of his duties at Galatasary in the autumn of 2010.
The final of 1995 was the curtain closer on his illustrious playing career coming at the end of a second stint as an Ajax player. Ironically, that night in Vienna the opposition club was the one at which he was most revered having won back to back European Cups in 1989 and 1990(himself scoring the only goal in the final defeat of Benfica), later repeating the feat in Serie A (’92 and ’93).
Earning 73 caps for the Netherlands he is the only player in this list to win a trophy with Oranje, part of the triumphant national side at Euro ’88 in West Germany.
Ronald De Boer: An ambassador for the successful Qatar World Cup 2022 bid De Boer lives in Doha, the capital of the country where he ended his playing career following stints with Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal, he also completes television work for sports channel Al Jazeera.
Another player enjoying his second stint at Ajax at the time of the 1995 final, having left to join Twente for two seasons. The midfielder also played for Barcelona and Rangers in the second half of his career winning league titles in both countries in the process. Playing side by side with twin brother Frank for most of his career he won 67 caps for the Dutch national team, a member of the 1998 World Cup side that reached the semi final stage in France.
Edgar Davids: Now an ambassador for the official street soccer federation of the Netherlands (SVBN), founder of The @Foundation and also involved with The Suriname Conservation Foundation which sustains rainforests in Suriname (Davids’ birthplace). He is the front man for MONTA (a street soccer apparel company) and was also seen on British television screens during the summer of 2010 as a pundit for ITV’s World Cup coverage in South Africa. More recently Davids enjoyed a brief spell as a player for Crystal Palace between August and November 2010 having previously retired from the game in 2008.
Nicknamed The Pitbull, his career at Ajax began in 1991; one year after the final of 1995 Davids joined that night’s opposition, AC Milan before moving to Juventus the following season. A successful spell wearing the bianconeri shirt of The Old Lady prior to moves that took the defensive midfielder to Barcelona, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur, culminating with a final swansong at Ajax in the 2007/08 season. The Pitbull can add 74 Netherlands caps to his impressive array of domestic league titles with Juventus and Ajax amongst other domestic and European trophies.
Clarence Seedorf: The last of Seedorf’s 87 Oranje caps came in a European Championship qualifying match back in 2008, despite this his club career is still going strong. AC Milan’s number 10 will be hoping to add to the honours he has obtained whilst wearing the famous rossoneri shirt, with the club still in contention in both Serie A and The Champions League. The 35 year old received many plaudits for an impressive showing as a pundit for the BBC during last summer’s World Cup in South Africa and has also found time to establish his own charity; Champions For Children.
Aged 16 years and 211 days Seedorf was to become Ajax’s youngest ever debutant and from here he never looked back, scooping two Eredivisie titles and a Champions League with the club before being transferred to Sampdoria. He played in Italy for one season before Fabio Capello personally requested his signature for Real Madrid (aged 19). Seedorf’s maiden season in Spanish football brought him a La Liga title, with a second Champions League winner’s medal following in 1998 before a move to Inter Milan.
A transfer from Inter to fierce rivals AC Milan saw a flurry of trophies added to the player’s honours list. A Coppa Italia and Champions League double was had in 2003 (marking Seedorf as the only player in history to win The Champions League with three different clubs), A triumphant Serie A campaign in 2004 led to the fourth domestic league title win of his career, a feat matched when he won The Champions League for the fourth time in 2007. The final trophy of this impressive haul came in 2007 seeing Seedorf set another record, becoming the first European player to win the FIFA Club World Cup for three different clubs following success with Ajax (’95) and Real Madrid (’98).
Disregarding the fact that a majority of this triumphant side is Dutch there appears to be a vast amount of symmetry that runs throughout, this is no more apparent than in the midfield. With three of these players hailing from Surinam, Seedorf must be eternally grateful to his parents for turning down a move to Real Madrid on his behalf aged 15, thus enabling him to go on and play in the same side as his boyhood idol Frank Rijkaard (whose father is Surinamese).
The final player of Surinamese descent; Edgar Davids also played for AC Milan just like the other two and again all three share the impressive accolade of being named amongst the FIFA 100. Despite the name the FIFA 100 is a list of the greatest ever 125 players to play the game nominated by none other than arguably the best player the world has ever seen: Pele.
Without forgetting Ronald De Boer, who went on to play in Spain just like his three midfield compatriots. Of the four only Rijkaard didn’t play for La Liga’s big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid, having a short stint in Spain with Real Zaragoza before his transfer to AC Milan.
Tribute must be paid to Ajax for giving these four remarkable players the opportunity to cut their teeth in senior football, with two of them (Davids and Seedorf) being promoted from the much lauded youth academy at the club.