Whatever happened to the Ajax team that shocked AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League Final? Months before Alan Hansen’s famous assertion that “You’ll never win anything with kids”, a youthful Ajax side turned over overwhelming favourites and reigning champions AC Milan in a tense final. It was also the match in which Patrick Kluivert announced himself on the world stage.
But what became of the rest of Ajax’s class of 1995? Killian Keys takes a look…
1. Edwin Van Der Sar – Holland’s most capped player of all time had rather uneventful spells at both Juventus and Fulham before enjoying a career resurgence at Manchester United. Was the hero of United’s 2008 Champions League Final victory over Chelsea, as well as setting a new Premiership record of minutes without conceding a goal.
2. Michael Reiziger – A talented right back who was a permanent fixture in the Barcelona side of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Retired in 2007 after spending a season with Middlesborough and two seasons with PSV. Reiziger was a member of Holland’s Euro 1996, 2000 and 2004 squads as well as playing in the 1998 World Cup.
3. Danny Blind – Ajax’s captain in 1995 soldiered on for another 4 years before retiring in 1999 aged 37. These days Danny Blind is employed as Ajax’s Director of Football
4. Frank Rijkaard – The 1995 Champions League Final proved to be Rijkaard’s last game before retirement. In recent years, Rijkaard enjoyed success as manager of Barcelona, winning 2 titles and a Champions League. He is now manager of Galatasary.
5. Frank DeBoer – A defender with great technical ability, DeBoer joined Barcelona from Ajax after the 1998 World Cup. Unsuccessful spells at Galatasary, Rangers and Al-Rayyan then followed. DeBoer is now a coach with both Ajax and the Dutch national team.
6. Clarence Seedorf – Arguably the most successful of the ’95 youngsters, Seedorf’s CV boasts spells at Ajax, Sampdoria, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan. In 2003 he became the first player to win the Champions League with 3 different clubs. As of 2009, he is still a key member of the Milan team.
7. Finidi George – Following his 3 years at Ajax, George moved to Real Betis in 1996. English fans may remember him playing for Ipswich during their brief stay in the Premiership. He retired in 2004 after a season with Real Mallorca
8. Edgar Davids – A ferocious tackler in the middle of the pitch, Davids was instantly recognizable for his protective glasses which he wore during matches. Davids formed a formidable midfield with Zinedine Zidane for Juventus in the late 1990’s. Following Juventus, Davids played for Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham and Ajax before retiring in 2008.
9. Ronald DeBoer – Like his twin brother Frank, Ronald also moved to Barcelona after the 1998 World Cup. Unlike Frank, Ronald struggled to make an impact at the Nou Camp and moved to Rangers in 2000. He retired in 2008 after a number of seasons in the Middle East.
10. Jari Litmanen – On of the best players in the world at the time, Litmanen was a highly talented attacking midfielder. Like many of the 1995 side, he went on to play for Barcelona. He moved to Liverpool in 2001, in search of first team football. After being criminally underused by Gerard Houllier, Litmanen returned to Ajax in 2002. As of 2009, Litmanen is still playing professionally for Lathi in Finland. He still plays for Finland, 20 years after his international debut.
11. Marc Overmars – The lightning fast winger was a key member of Arsenal’s double winning team of 1998. He moved to Barcelona for £25m in 2000 before retiring in 2004 at the age of 31. Overmars returned to football briefly in 2008 to play for the Go Ahead Eagles in the Dutch lower leagues.
12. Kanu – A substitute in the 1995 final, Kanu went on to join Inter Milan. His time in Italy was marred by a heart defect which required surgery. Once recovered, he moved to Arsenal in 1999, where he won the double in 2002. After leaving Arsenal in 2004, Kanu joined West Brom. He enjoyed a career resurgence in 2006 after joining Portsmouth for whom he scored the winner in the 2008 FA Cup final. As of 2009 he is still playing for Portsmouth.
13. Patrick Kluivert – Ajax’s matchwinner in the 1995 final, Kluivert had the world at his feet. Kluivert spent an unhappy season in Milan before joining Barcelona in 1998. Despite early successes, Kluivert was released by Barcelona in 2004. Uneventful spells at Newcastle, Valencia, PSV and Lille followed before reitrement in 2008.
Did the Ajax side of 1995 live up to their potential? Another Champions League final followed in 1996, although on this occasion, Ajax lost to Juventus on penalties. Ajax would never reach these heights again, as the 1995 squad began to disintegrate.