The chance encounter which led Johan Cruyff to inspire Ajax's next generation

Dutch football expert David Winner spoke to Off The Ball on Monday night

BY Cian Roche 13:53 Wednesday 24 May 2017, 13:53 24 May 2017

Image: AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani

Ajax boast a proud football history and have nurtured the talent of some of the sport's greatest ever players.

On Wednesday night, the Dutch side return to action and will feature in their first European final since 1995. Under the lights in Vienna more than 20 years ago, they lifted the Champions League trophy.

Ahead of their clash with Manchester United in Stockholm, Dutch football expert David Winner, spoke to Off The Ball about this new generation of Ajax players and how they have returned to the philosophy set down by club icon, Johan Cruyff.

"The history of Ajax, since they emerged onto the world's stage as a major power in the late 60s early 70s, has swung between the followers of [Rinus] Michels and Johan Cruyff," he said on Monday's Football Show.

"In the last 20 years we saw the decline of the great 1995 team that won the Champions League, featuring Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and the de Boer brothers.

"After that Ajax looked quite weak in comparison to the big teams around Europe.

"The Van Gaal system stayed. They played in a very position and possession-based game. The ball retention was made up really of a lot passing around at the back."

Johan Cruyff skips past Bayern Munich defenders during the final game of his career. Image:  PA/PA Wire/PA Images

The New Age

Since Van Gaal's departure, Ajax have seen 13 different managers come and go, before appointing current boss, Peter Bosz.

Winner described the 53-year-old as a "devotee of Johan Cruyff" and shared an encounter between the two before the passing of the legendary Dutchman last year.

"Bosz had loved Cruyff from afar and collected newspaper interviews with him. He stuck them into a book, but didn't really know him.

"The last thing Johan Cruyff did before he died was that he went on a trip to see his son Jordi in Israel. He was the technical director of Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

"The manager was of the club at the time was Peter Bosz. The last photos we have of Johan was him talking to his son and this other guy that we didn't really know very well.

"This of course was Peter Bosz. It has since emerged that Bosz and Johan Cruyff spent most of a week together. Cruyff spoke the entire time and here was Bosz almost downloading all of his wisdom.

"Last week Bosz admitted that in that one week he had gained enough information to last him 10 years. He's built this new Ajax team hugely influenced directly by Cruyff."

You can listen to the full discussion on Monday's Off The Ball below.


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