When it comes to greatness and history in world football, Ajax is the only club in Dutch football that stands out as they have managed to dominate for over a 100 years and are the most successful club in the history of Dutch football with 34 Eredivisie titles and 19 KNVB Cups. But Ajax is not just known for only its scintillating domestic success and supreme dominance but also for their philosophy and style that has taken over or rather influenced European football in recent history.
While they have seen some fair bit of competition from PSV and Feyenoord, Ajax has managed to stay consistent and win trophies almost every season. One of the reasons for that is the youth academy of Ajax that has never failed to impress and has produced some of the greatest talents in the history of football.
One of them was Johan Cryuff who went on to become a legendary figure in the beautiful game as he led Ajax in their glory days, winning 3 consecutive European Cups in the early 70s and 6 Eredivisie titles. He later joined Barcelona and won the La Liga title with them in an era dominated purely by the Spanish giants, Real Madrid. He then returned to Ajax, won another 2 Eredivisie titles and concluded his glittering career with Feyenoord in his final season. However, his contributions did not just stop there as he became a manager of Ajax and later at Barcelona, he introduced the concept of “Total Football” which was adopted by his Ajax thanks to Vic Buckingham who laid the foundations for the brilliant idea and it absolutely changed the philosophy and style of Barcelona, making them a top contender in every competition. Many experts, analysts and writers believe that the same philosophy and style is still in the DNA of both Ajax and Barcelona even to this day.
That philosophy at Ajax inspired their youth system to produce even greater talents from the Netherlands as they produced Wesley Sneijder who won the treble with Inter Milan, Seedorf who won the UCL with 3 different clubs, Patrick Kluivert who became a legend at both Ajax and Barcelona and Denis Bergkamp, an Arsenal legend and a crucial part of “The Invincibles”. But the club was just not about producing homegrown talent, over the years, Ajax has also had great talent searching programmes and has managed to scout world-class talented footballers from all over the world such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez, two of possibly the greatest strikers of this era.
The club’s philosophy, style and dedication to the youth academy and its talent searching programmes have helped them become the dominant force that they are domestically and has helped them compete at the highest level in the European Cups/UCLs. Many analysts also believe that Barcelona’s success came from the ideologies and philosophy of Ajax from the 20th century which has also led to a great relationship between both the clubs. From a neutral perspective though, the footballing world is thankful to have been able to witness the talents produced by Ajax.