Ezra Walian: Fulfilling his boyhood dream

Ajax academy prospect Ezra Walian was recently capped for the Indonesian U-22 national team after successfully obtaining the Indonesian nationality due to his father’s roots. With that achievement, the 19 year old is one step closer to fulfilling his boyhood dream: playing for the Indonesian national team at the highest level.

Walian was born and raised in Amsterdam and played for clubs such as HFC Haarlem and AZ Alkmaar at youth level before signing for Ajax at the age of 14. Although the move went smooth and Walian performed well on the pitch, the transfer to Ajax was a huge step for him on a personal level. A different club culture required him to adjust to the more individualistic and performance oriented approach that successfully sets the Ajax academy apart from other youth academies. Since his move to the Amsterdam side, Walian has been capped for Oranje under 15, 17 and 19.

Involvement with the development of Indonesian Football

His father describes Ezra as a modest, spontaneous and social person. These personality traits proved to be the beginning of his rise to fame in Indonesia. As a 15 year old, whilst on holiday in Indonesia, Walian set up football tournaments for the orphanage owned by his aunt. Supported by the Ajax Foundation, Walian brought Ajax merchandise for the orphans. The Walian family went on annual trips to Indonesia and each year it got bigger until at some point the local media started to take notice.

‘Walian will become a superstar in Indonesia’

Having Indonesian roots, an 11 year old Walian on holiday in Bali saw matches of the Indonesian national team on the TV.  A desire to play for his father’s birth nation grew from that moment on. With the growing media attention he gained from the football clinics and tournaments for the orphans, the Indonesian football Association ultimately approached him. Walian has since then gained the Indonesian nationality which ensured his eligibility to play for the Timnas. On the 21st of March this year, the 19 year old Walian made his debut for the Indonesian U-22 national team against Myanmar.

As a footballer

Walian’s natural position is as a centre-forward, and whilst at Ajax he has been mostly deployed as an all-out striker, he has made plenty of appearances as a winger. He’s at his best when receiving balls in the box or being launched from midfield with a ball behind the opponents defence. At such occasions, Walian has shown great composure in the box and ability to finish with his right-foot and head.

This season, Walian has statistically been involved with a goal in every 3 matches. So far, Walian made 21 appearances for Jong Ajax in the Jupiler league, the Dutch second tier. 11 of those 21 appearances were as part of the starting-eleven and 10 as a substitute. In total, Walian spent 1039 minutes on the pitch, scoring 3 and assisting 1. This amounts to roughly 260 minutes per goal or assist. These stats equal to at least one goal or assist in every 3 matches. However, in these 21 matches, Walian has not been used as a striker on 8 occasions, occupying either the left or right wing.

Last season, Walian appeared solely for Ajax U-19 in the U-19 Eredivisie and UEFA Youth League. Spending 2317 minutes on the pitch in 36 appearances, Walian managed to score 17 goals and assisting 8: needing only 93 minutes per goal or assist.

Although Walian needs to improve his effectiveness for Jong Ajax, he has shown at Ajax U-19 that he is capable of doing exactly that. Without doubt, the young Walian will become a superstar in Indonesia; and his future performances at Jong Ajax will determine whether he will become one at Ajax as well.