Who are Ajax’s most influential foreign players?

While Ajax is famous for producing talented Dutch players over the years, the club has also seen its fair share of foreign players impress in the famous red and white of the capital club.

Here are a few of the foreign players who have made an indelible mark on the history of the Netherlands giants:

Jari Litmanen

The Finnish attacking midfielder is a modern-day Ajax icon, having enjoyed two spells with the club.

Litmanen’s first spell with the club from Amsterdam lasted from 1992 until 1999, during which time he scored 129 goals in 228 appearances in all competitions.

He played a crucial role in helping a talented young Ajax team win the Champions League in 1995 and was also a Dutch champion five times during those glory years.

Velibor Vasovic

The Belgrade-born sweeper joined Ajax in 1966 from Red Star Belgrade, having suffered a defeat in the European Cup final against Real Madrid with his hometown team.

Vasovic went on to become arguably the world’s best sweeper and significantly influenced the team’s defence until his departure in 1971.

During his time with Ajax, Vasovic made history by becoming the first foreign player to captain the Dutch team.

The highlights of his time in Amsterdam were winning the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup on three occasions and playing a pivotal role in the team’s first European Cup win in 1971.

Soren Lerby

The Danish midfielder joined Ajax in 1975 at 17 and became highly influential for the team from the Dutch capital until his departure in 1983.

Lerby was influential in the centre of the park for the Amsterdammers, scoring 92 goals and producing 69 goals in his 269 appearances for the club.


During his time with Ajax, Lerby won the Eredivisie title five times and the KNVB Cup on two occasions. He was also highly successful with Ajax’s Dutch rivals PSV Eindhoven, with whom he also won the European Cup in 1988.

Frank Arnesen

The midfielder signed with compatriot Lerby from Fremad Amager in 1975 as an 18-year-old. It didn’t take long for Arnesen to be in the first team, though, as he made his debut four months later and played for the club until 1981.

Arnesen may not have been as prolific as his countryman. However, he was still a significant presence in the Ajax midfield, scoring 63 goals and creating 80 in 213 competitive appearances for the Dutch giants.

Like Lerby, he went on to play for PSV Eindhoven and won the European Cup alongside his compatriot.

Dusan Tadic

The Serbian international joined the Dutch giants from Southampton in 2018 and enjoyed five years at the club.

Tadic’s attacking influence was vital for Ajax under Erik ten Hag. In 241 appearances for the club from the Dutch capital, he scored 105 goals and produced 112 assists.

During his time in Amsterdam, Tadic won the Eredivisie on three occasions while also lifting the KNVB Cup twice.

He also was a key player for Ajax as they narrowly missed out on a Champions League final appearance in 2019.

Nwankwo Kanu

The Nigerian forward may have been at Ajax for just three years, but he made an impact during his time in Amsterdam.

While with the Dutch giants, Kanu won the Eredivisie three times and also the European Cup in 1995. He also picked up a runners-up medal the following season in Europe’s elite competition.

Kanu went on to play for the likes of Inter Milan, and maybe most notably for Arsenal, where he won the Premier League title on two occasions.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swedish forward joined Ajax in 2001 from hometown club Malmo and remained in the Dutch capital for years, scoring a respectable 48 goals in 110 appearances for the Dutch club.

Ibrahimovic’s goals helped his team to the Dutch title on two occasions and also a KNVB Cup.

He left Ajax in 2004 to join Juventus and went on to become one of the most decorated players in the European game until his retirement in 2023 at the ripe old age of 41.

Luis Suarez

The tenacious Uruguayan spent four years with Ajax from 2007 until 2011 and was quite simply a goal machine for the Dutch giants.

Suarez made 159 appearances for Ajax in all competitions, scoring 111 goals and making 59 assists. His goals helped his team win the Eredivisie title and the KNVB Cup.

He enjoyed a trophy-laden career after his exit in 2011, as he won major trophies with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Stefan Pettersson

Pettersson joined Ajax in 1988 from IFK Goteborg in his homeland and proved to be an inspired signing for the Dutch club.

The Swedish forward made 197 appearances for Ajax in all competitions and scored 100 goals.

His goals inspired Ajax to win the Eredivisie title twice and also the KNVB Cup on one occasion. Pettersson also scored in the 1992 UEFA Cup final to help Ajax defeat Torino on away goals over two legs.

It wasn’t the first time Pettersson had won the competition, as he had a winner’s medal from the 1987 edition with Goteborg.

Who is your favourite Ajax player from our list?