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Ajax History- All About the Club

The Football Club Ajax, also known as AFC Ajax, is a professional football club based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. They compete in the Eredivisie, the highest level of Dutch football, and Ajax’s history is quite rich.

With 36 Eredivisie titles and 20 KNVB Cups, Ajax is historically the most successful club in the Netherlands.

They have consistently played in the Eredivisie since its inception in 1956 and, together with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven, form the “big three” clubs that have dominated the competition.

In the 20th century, Ajax was one of the most successful football clubs in the world.

In 1972, they achieved the continental treble by winning the Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, and European Cup, and won the first European Super Cup in 1973.

Their most recent international trophies include the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, 1995 UEFA Super Cup, and the 1995 Champions League, where they defeated Milan in the final.

Ajax is one of only four teams to have won the continental treble and the Intercontinental Cup or Club World Cup in the same season/calendar year.

Ajax is one of five clubs to have won all three major UEFA club competitions.

They have also won the Intercontinental Cup twice, the 1991-92 UEFA Cup, as well as the Karl Rappan Cup in 1962.

The club plays at the Johan Cruyff Arena, previously known as the Amsterdam ArenA, and has a reputation for scouting and developing young talent through their youth system.

Ajax History – Everything You Need to Know

We are going to try to cover as much as we can about the club. We’ll explore different matters, including Ajax Champions League history, Ajax kit history, Ajax logo history, Ajax badge history, Ajax jersey history, Ajax honors, Ajax trophies history, Ajax mascot history, Ajax Stadiums, Ajax rivalries history, and Ajax managers history.

The Foundation

The Foundation
credit: redbubble.com

Ajax Football Club was established in Amsterdam on 18 March 1900.

The team made its way to the highest tier of Dutch football in 1911 and had its first significant accomplishment in 1917, winning the KNVB Beker, which is the national cup of the Netherlands.

In the following season, Ajax became the national champion for the first time in Ajax history. In 1918-19, the club defended its title, accomplishing an unbeaten season in the Netherlands Football League Championship, which made it the only team to do so.

During the 1920s, Ajax was a powerful regional force, winning the Eerste Klasse West division in 1921, 1927, and 1928, but failed to maintain its success at the national level.

However, this changed in the 1930s, as the team claimed five national championships (1931, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1939), making it the most successful Dutch club of that decade.

Ajax won its second KNVB Cup in 1942-43, and its eighth Dutch title in 1946-47, which marked the final season the team was led by Englishman Jack Reynolds.

In Ajax managers history, Reynolds had overseen all of the club’s national championship victories, and its 1917 KNVB Cup win up to that point.

The Start of Eredivisie

The Start of Eredivisie
credit: safa.net

Ajax participated as one of the founding members of the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ new professional league, in 1956.

Ajax history tells us that the club won the national championship in their debut season under the new format and also made their first appearance in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup the following year, losing to Vasas SC in the quarter-finals.

They won the Eredivisie championship again in 1960 and their third KNVB Cup in 1961.

In 1965, Rinus Michels, a former Ajax player from 1946 to 1958, became the club’s manager and introduced his Total Football philosophy, which would become synonymous with both Ajax and the Netherlands national team.

Johan Cruyff Period, The Golden Era

Johan Cruyff Period, The Golden Era
credit: barcauniversal.com

Johan Cruyff, who is widely considered the greatest Dutch footballer of all time, made his debut for Ajax a year earlier.

Michels and Cruyff led Ajax through their most successful period, winning seven Eredivisie titles, four KNVB Cups, and three European Cups.

One of Ajax honors, The team won the Dutch championship for three consecutive years from 1966 to 1968 and made it to the 1969 European Cup final, but unfortunately lost to Milan.

During the 1966-67 season, Ajax achieved their first league and cup double and set a new Eredivisie record by scoring 122 goals.

In Ajax trophies history, during the 1969-70 season, they won their fourth Dutch league championship and second league and cup double in just five seasons, winning 27 out of 34 league matches and scoring 100 goals.

In the following season of 1970-71, Ajax won the KNVB Cup again and went on to win their first European Cup title, beating Panathinaikos 2-0 with goals from Dick van Dijk and Arie Haan.

Johan Cruyff was named European Footballer of the Year for his contributions. After the win, Rinus Michels left to manage Barcelona and was replaced by Romanian Stefan Kovacs.

In Kovacs’ first season, Ajax won a treble of the European Cup, the Eredivisie, and their third consecutive KNVB Cup.

In Ajax history, we can see that the team also won the 1972 Intercontinental Cup by beating Argentine Club Atletico Independiente, and retained their Eredivisie and European Cup titles, becoming the first club to win three consecutive European Cups since Real Madrid in the 1950s.

Cruyff Leaving and Returning

Cruyff Leaving and Returning
credit: fifa.com

Michels’ Barcelona set a new world transfer record in 1973 by acquiring Cruyff.

However, the departure of Kovacs to become the manager of the French national team marked the end of the era of international success.

Ajax won their first domestic championship in four seasons in 1976-77, and two years later, they achieved a double of the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup.

In the early 1980s, Cruyff returned to the club, and young players Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard emerged.

Ajax history was bright again. The team won consecutive Eredivisie titles in 1982 and 1983, with all three players playing an important role in the latter victory.

After Cruyff was sold to rivals Feyenoord in 1983, van Basten became the key player for Ajax, topping the Eredivisie scoring charts for four seasons between 1983-84 and 1986-87.

Cruyff returned to Ajax as a manager in 1985, and in his first season, the team scored 120 goals from 34 matches. Despite this, Ajax finished as runners-up to PSV by eight points.

The following season, Ajax won the European Cup Winners’ Cup, their first continental trophy in 14 years, although they lost out on the Eredivisie title to PSV.

Cruyff left the club to become the manager of Barcelona, and Rijkaard and van Basten were sold to Sporting CP and Milan, respectively.

Nevertheless, Ajax reached the Cup Winners’ Cup final for the second consecutive year in 1988 but lost to Belgian club KV Mechelen.

Louis van Gaal As Manager

Louis van Gaal as Manager
credit: eurosport.com

During the 1988-89 season, Dennis Bergkamp established himself as a regular goal scorer for Ajax.

He helped Ajax win the Eredivisie title and was the top scorer in the division for three consecutive seasons from 1990-91 to 1992-93.

Under the management of Louis van Gaal, Ajax won the UEFA Cup in 1992, becoming the second club after Juventus to have won all three major European club competitions.

After the sale of Bergkamp to Internazionale in 1993, van Gaal brought back the experienced Rijkaard to complement his young Ajax team, which included academy graduates like Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Michael Reiziger, and Winston Bogarde, as well as foreign talents like Finidi George, Nwankwo Kanu, and Jari Litmanen, and veteran captain Danny Blind.

Ajax history saw the team win the Dutch championship in 1993-94 and then again in 1994-95 and 1995-96, becoming the first Ajax side since 1968 to win three consecutive championships.

The team’s greatest achievement under van Gaal came in 1994-95 when they became the first and only team to complete an entire Eredivisie season unbeaten.

In Ajax Champions League history, we can see that they won their first European Cup since the 1970s, defeating Milan 1-0 in the 1995 UEFA Champions League final with the winning goal scored by 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert.

Ajax reached the final again the following year but was defeated on penalties by Juventus.

The Team Without The Stars

The Team Without The Stars
credit: twitter

Ajax’s success in the late 90s was short-lived as many of the key players and their coach, Louis van Gaal, departed to join other big clubs in Europe.

The 2000s were a difficult period for the team, with only two Eredivisie titles won.

However, the club’s youth academy continued to produce talented players like Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart.

In 2010, Frank de Boer was appointed as the new manager of Ajax, and he led the team to win their 30th league title in the 2010-11 season, after a seven-year drought.

They then went on to win back-to-back titles in 2011-12 and 2012-13, equaling de Boer’s achievement as a player in the 1990s.

Ajax won their fourth consecutive league title in the 2013-14 season, a first in Ajax history. De Boer resigned in 2016 after finishing as the runner-up to PSV in two consecutive seasons.

Peter Bosz replaced de Boer as manager and led the team to the 2017 UEFA Europa League final, their first European final in 21 years.

Despite having the youngest-ever lineup in a European final, with an average age of 22 years and 282 days, Ajax lost to Manchester United.

They finished as runner-up in the Eredivisie for the third consecutive season, this time to Feyenoord.

If you find yourself interested in articles similar to this, you can check out Marseille History- All About the Club as well.

Surprising at the Champions League

Surprising at the Champions League
credit: bild.de

In Ajax history, the club had an extraordinary journey in the UEFA Champions League during the 2018-19 season.

They started in the second qualifying round because they finished as runners-up in the 2017-18 Eredivisie.

After winning against Sturm Graz, Standard Liege, and Dynamo Kyiv, they qualified for the group stage.

In their group were Bayern Munich, Benfica, AEK Athens, and Ajax finished as runners-up, which advanced them to the knockout stages.

They were drawn against three-time defending champions, Real Madrid, and despite losing 1-2 in the first leg, they stunned the defending champions with a 4-1 victory in the away match at the Santiago Bernabeu, leading to an aggregate score of 5-3.

L’Equipe gave Dusan Tadic a perfect score of 10 following the match.

As a result, Ajax advanced to the quarter-finals and was pitted against Italian champions Juventus. The first leg at the Johan Cruyff Arena ended in a 1-1 draw.

In the second leg at the Juventus Stadium, Ajax came from behind to win 2-1 and progress to their first Champions League semi-final since 1997 with an aggregate score of 3-2.

Matthijs de Ligt scored the winning goal for Ajax. In the semi-final, they faced the English team Tottenham Hotspur and won the first leg 1-0 away from home.

In the second leg, Ajax scored twice in the first half to hold a 3-0 lead on aggregate, but Tottenham’s Lucas Moura scored three times in the second half, including in the 6th minute of added time, resulting in Ajax losing on the away goals rule.

Although Ajax was leading the Eredivisie on goal difference, the competition was canceled due to COVID-19, which prevented them from being crowned Dutch champions for the 35th time.

Ajax Stadiums

Ajax Stadiums
credit: johancruyffinstitute.com

In Ajax history, we see that the team initially had a wooden stadium called Het Houten Stadion (The Wooden Stadium) that was constructed in 1911.

Later on, the team moved to the Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam and designed by Jan Wils.

In 1934, Ajax relocated to the De Meer Stadion in east Amsterdam, which was built by Daan Roodenburgh, an architect and Ajax member who also designed their first stadium.

This stadium had a seating capacity of 29,500 and served as Ajax’s home ground until 1996.

However, for important European and domestic matches, Ajax frequently played at the Olympic Stadium, which could accommodate twice as many spectators.

Ajax relocated to the Amsterdam Arena, now named the Johan Cruyff Arena, situated in the southeast of the city in 1996, which was constructed by the Amsterdam city government for $134 million.

With a seating capacity of 55,885, the Arena features a retractable roof, making it one of the first modern stadiums in Europe.

However, the removable roof caused issues with the pitch quality as it restricted the amount of sunlight and fresh air, even when opened.

The stadium staff installed an artificial lighting system during the 2008-09 season, which significantly improved the grass quality.

The De Meer Stadion, Ajax’s former stadium, was demolished and sold to the city council.

Nowadays, a residential area occupies the site, and the only remnant of the old stadium is the “AJAX” letters displayed on the facade of the youth training grounds known as De Toekomst, situated near the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Ajax Badge History & Ajax Jersey History

Ajax Badge History & Ajax Jersey History
credit: logos-world.net

When Ajax was founded in 1900, their emblem was simply a picture of an Ajax player.

As the club changed its outfits after being promoted to the top division in 1911, the crest was slightly altered to match.

In 1928, Ajax logo history saw the team introducing the current club logo with the head of the Greek hero Ajax.

The logo was once again changed in 1990 to a simpler version, still featuring Ajax’s portrait but with just 11 lines to represent the 11 players on a football team.

Regarding Ajax kit history, at first, they played in an all-black uniform with a red sash around their waists, but this was soon replaced by a red and white striped shirt with black shorts, reflecting the colors of the Amsterdam flag.

However, when they were promoted to the top flight in 1911, they had to change their colors because Sparta Rotterdam already had the same outfit.

You should also know that at the time, special kits for away fixtures did not exist, and football association regulations required newcomers to change their colors if two teams in the same league had identical uniforms.

Ajax chose a white shirt with a broad, vertical red stripe over the chest and back and white shorts. This has remained Ajax’s outfit to this day in 2023.

Ajax Fan Base

Ajax Fan Base
credit: fanzone.oddset.de

Ajax is known for its enthusiastic core supporter groups, namely F-Side and VAK410.

F-Side was established on October 3, 1976, and is located behind the goal at the southern end of Johan Cruyff Arena, in rows 125-129.

They get their name from their former location on the F-side of the old De Meer Stadion.

F-Side supporters are responsible for creating a large part of the atmosphere during matches, but they are also notorious for causing trouble during and after games.

An interesting fact in Ajax history is that the squad always plays towards the south end of the stadium during the second half if they win the coin toss.

VAK410, on the other hand, was founded in 2001 and is situated in the upper ring of the Zuidhoek (South corner) of the stadium in rows 424-425.

Originally located on the North-West side of the stadium in row 410, the group moved to its current spot in 2008.

VAK410 members are known for performing various stunts, such as massive banners, to enhance the atmosphere during matches.

Neither F-Side nor VAK410 has seats in their sections of the stadium, and both groups stand throughout the match.

According to SPORT+MARKT, an official Dutch sports research group, Ajax had around 7.1 million fans across Europe in 2010.

This number is much higher compared to their rivals Feyenoord and PSV, who had 1.6 million and 1.3 million supporters, respectively, making Ajax the 15th most-supported club in Europe.

Additionally, the study found that approximately 39% of the Dutch population were fans of Ajax.

Ajax Mascot History

Ajax Mascot History
credit: ajaxlife.nl

Lucky Lynx is the popular mascot of the Eredivisie football club Ajax Amsterdam since 2000.

In December 2015, he was succeeded by his son, Lucky Junior.

Lucky Lynx entertains Ajax fans at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, as well as at Ajax Kids Club events, school events, and charity events in and around Amsterdam.

According to his fictional biography, Lucky was born on top of Mount Olympus in Greece, is 1.75 meters tall, has yellow eyes, brown, black, and white hair, wears size 58 shoes, and loves playing football.

He is the central character in the Fan Clubs Kids magazine and is popular among fans at games and social events.

Lucky’s name is derived from the Lucky Ajax team, a beneficiary team consisting of ex-Ajax players who compete in at least one charity match a year, created by “Mr. Ajax” Sjaak Swart.

Lucky Lynx wears a whole-body lynx costume made of black, brown, and white fur, with yellow eyes and a short tail.

He also wears an authentic Ajax uniform, including a white/red/white home kit, an Ajax baseball cap of matching colors, and athletic shoes provided by the team.

Lucky’s jersey bears his name on the back.

As a key figure of the Ajax Kids Club, Lucky promotes teamwork, companionship, and the importance of education during school visits that aim to promote tolerance.

Lucky also features in a monthly Ajax fanzine for Kids, which includes a comic strip illustrated by Dutch cartoonist Maarten Rijnen. He is also available for private events.

Ajax Rivalries History

Ajax Rivalries History
credit: mirror.co.uk

In Ajax history, Feyenoord has been Ajax’s main rival, and they play against each other annually in a match called De Klassieker, which is a game between the two largest cities in the Netherlands.

In the 1970s, Ajax and Feyenoord were the only two teams in the Netherlands that won national titles, as well as European and even global competitions.

A match between these two clubs became the standard for determining the best club in the Netherlands.

De Klassieker is the most well-known rivalry in the Netherlands, and tickets for these matches always sell out.

It is known for the “graceful and elegant football of Ajax, against the indomitable fighting spirit of Feyenoord”; the confidence of the capital city versus the blue-collar mentality of Rotterdam.

These games are typically characterized by tension and violence both on and off the pitch.

Due to various violent incidents involving rival supporters, away supporters are prohibited in both stadiums.

The most significant occurrence was the “Battle of Beverwijk” on 23 March 1997, where Ajax supporter Carlo Picornie was fatally injured.

Ajax vs PSV
Ajax vs PSV
credit: whathifi.com

Ajax also has a rivalry with PSV, but the matches between the two teams do not generate as much tension and animosity as those against Feyenoord.

The rivalry with PSV has been ongoing for some time and has been caused by various factors, including different interpretations of the current national and international successes of both clubs and the supposed contrast between Randstad and the province.

The matches between the two teams are known as “De Topper” (“The Topper”) and involve the two most successful teams in Dutch football.

The rivalry is essentially a clash of two competing schools of thought in Dutch football.

Historically, PSV have played with a more workmanlike ethic, preferring a more robust formation such as 4-3-1-2 or 4-2-3-1, and have shunned the more frivolous 4-3-3 approach favored by Ajax.

While Ajax innovated Total Football in the sixties and seventies with Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff, a different philosophy was developed in Eindhoven by Kees Rijvers and Guus Hiddink in the late 1970s and 80s.

This has led to a philosophical rivalry between the two teams, which is gradually becoming as intense as the Ajax-Feyenoord matches.

Damian Cade
Damian Cade
He is an enthusiastic senior writer for Footbalium who leans towards writing and researching the history of football clubs and players' life stories.
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