World Cup for club teams in 1972 by beating the Argentinean and South American club champions independiente. The success of Ajax also had its effect on the Dutch national side which in 1974, with a foundation supported by many Ajax players or former Ajax players and managed by Rinus Michels, finished the World Cup finals as runners-up. When Spain and Italy opened their borders to foreign players, and many Ajax players seized the opportunity to earn some serious money with their talents, it looked as if Ajax would be banned from European football's Olympus. It looked like Ajax could not compete with financially stronger dubs. The new situation forced Ajax to be inventive. More than ever and with a more structured approach than ever, the focus was directed towards the training of young and talented players. On Voorland, Dutch and international especially Scandinavian) young players were trained. The name Voorland' (Ajax's youth training ground, behind the Ajax Stadium) became famous all over the world. Voorland' developed into a seal of quality for young footballers. A generation of promising footballers found its way via Ajax to the European Cup Winners Cup. In 1935, Johan Cruyff was appointed Technical Director. Under his leadership, Ajax managed to be successful internationally. A new group of talented players emerged, and in 1937, Ajax won the European Cup Winners Cup. After another exodus of the most talented players such as Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Sasten) many people doubted whether Ajax would ever be able to stand up and be counted among the giants of international football. Under manager Louis van Gaal the main aim was to optimise the football philosophy for the first team as well as the youth training programme, which had been introduced by Johan Cruijff. This led to another boom period for the club. In 1992, Ajax managed to win the UEFA Cup, and became the second club after Juventus ever to win all three big international titles, followed only by Barcelona in 1992 and by Bayern Munich in 1996. In 1995, both UEFA's Champions League (the successor to the European Cup competition) and the World Cup for club teams were won. The sale of a number of highly talented players and the successes of three years of playing in the Champions League produced a strong financial basis from which an even more professional status was reached. The international performances have confirmed Ajax fame. In the Netherlands, Ajax is the most successful club (27 times National Champion, 10 times Cup Winner, 3 times winner of the Dutch 5uper Cup). The popularity of Ajax has developed both nationally (a supporters association with more than 75,000 members) and internationally to a new, higher level. The Ajax school of football is regarded a shining example, and playing in the hugely impressive and ultramodern Amsterdam Aren A and its sports complex 'De Toekomst' has given Ajax, in many respects a trendsetting club, a charisma equalled by only a few other clubs in the world. David Endt


Jaarverslagen Ajax NV (vanaf 1997) | 1998 | | pagina 7