International 101: AFC Ajax
Named after the mythological hero who fought in the Trojan War, AFC Ajax has been one of the most successful clubs in the world since their inception in 1900. In those 111 years in Amsterdam, Ajax have established themselves as kings of the Dutch national league, Eredivisie, winning the league a total of 30 times.
Due to their success on a national and international level, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics recognized Ajax as the seventh-most successful European club during the 20th century. In addition to their Dutch league accolades, Ajax has won four Champions Leagues, two Intercontinental Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, one Winners’ Cup, and one UEFA Cup.
After a seven-year absence Ajax returned to the top of Eredivisie in the 2010-11 season. In those seven seasons, nine different managers have been at the helm for Ajax, but this year former Ajax great Frank de Boer led the team to the championship after defeating rival FC Twente 3-1 in the fourth meeting of the season between the two clubs.
The club garnered international attention for not only capturing one of the more emotional titles in club history, but for also following in the footsteps of Real Madrid when a cable line knocked the trophy out of Stekelenburg’s hands during the victory parade.
Notable Players and Alumni
Maarten Stekelenburg, goalkeeper, 2002-Present
Stekelenburg has been the choice goalkeeper for Ajax since 2002 and was named Ajax Player of the Year for the 2007-08 season. Steckelenburg has earned 40 caps for the Dutch National Team and received international acclaim for his performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup semi-final for the Netherlands.
Johan Cruyff, forward, 1964-73, 81-83
His number 14 is the only number ever retired by Ajax. In his 276 Ajax appearances, Cruyff scored 204 goals. He also scored 48 goals during a five-year career with Barcelona. Cruyff is currently the manager of the Catalonia National Team and works for Ajax on an advisory basis.
Edgar Davids, midfielder, 1992-96, 2007-08
Known just as well for his dreadlocks and goggles as for his skill on the pitch, Davids is one of the most recognizable players in Ajax history. During his playing career Davids was chosen by Pelé to be on FIFA’s list of the top 100 living footballers and played for notable clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, and Barcelona.
Frank de Boer, defender, 1988-98
The former defender and current manager has spent nearly his entire career with AFC Ajax. As a player, de Boer was a part of an Ajax team that won the Dutch league five times. His career came full circle when he was named manager in the middle of the 2010-11 campaign and led Ajax to their first championship in seven years. De Boer also has 112 caps for the Dutch National Team.
Edwin van der Sar, goalkeeper, 1990-99
In his first season with Ajax, van der Sar was named Dutch Goalkeeper of the Year, an award he kept for four consecutive seasons. Van der Sar helped Ajax win the Dutch league four times during his tenure while also earning 130 caps for the Dutch National Team. Van der Sar has been the choice goalkeeper for Manchester United since 2005 and helped the Red Devils win their 19th English Premier League title this season.
AFC Ajax has used a few different logos in their history. However, their current badge is a picture of the Greek Hero Ajax drawn with just 11 lines. The 11 lines are symbolic of the 11 players on a football team.