19th of April, 1995. A date engraved into every Ajacied that’s lived through the famous last Champions League winning stint, as it marked the real return of the club on the international stage. It was the day that German superpower Bayern Munich was beaten at home 5-2. 5-2! In a European semi-final. The most memorable moment though, remains forever attached to a memorable name.
Marc Overmars had the ball at his feet on the left side of the box. A casual pass was played wide, with Jari Litmanen stepping out to pick it up. Or did he? The Finnish legend faked a first touch and let the ball slip on through his legs, onwards to the next station. On the edge of the box, right in front of goal, the ball then found a swinging Nigerian leg. In one fluid motion, it was driven straight at goal from the outside of the boot. What followed was a goal of extreme beauty, as the sphere was curling away from the goalkeeper and ended up hitting the back of the net in the top corner. Finidi George.
Finidi George vs Bayern pic.twitter.com/ZPRcKzvEb2
— AjaxDaily Video (@ajaxdailydottv) September 5, 2017
It struck people as a surprise Ajax had a tall, lanky winger from Nigeria on trial at the start of the 1993 season. It was even more surprising to most, that George was handpicked by Van Gaal (and supposedly even signed by him through his own wages) to join the first squad. But Finide soon proved why Louis was right, as he is so very bloody often.
Eradicating Peter van Vossen from the starting eleven, Finidi quickly became a fixed starter for Ajax in the revered 4-3-3 formation. His speed, trickery, modest personality and awareness quickly turned him into a real fan favorite at De Meer, resulting into the crowd frequently chanting his name and the Nigerian responding with his characteristic thumbs up.
In his time in Amsterdam, which ended in 1996 when he left for Spanish side Mallorca, he won the Champions League, Club World Cup and three Eredivisie titles. Furthermore, he was part of the legendary Super Eagles side that seized the 1994 African Cup of Nations. Retiring in 2004, he would sadly never return to the form he displayed in Holland.