There are very few football clubs around the world with a history as rich as that of AFC Ajax. The club has more than 50 domestic trophies and four European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup under their belts. They are one of the most successful football clubs in existence, being only one of four clubs to have won all three major UEFA competitions.
The team was founded more than a hundred years ago back in 1900 in Amsterdam taking their name from Greek mythology but the distinguishing white shirts with the red stripe wouldn’t come along until later in 1911. Success came along pretty early when Jack Reynolds arrived to manage the club. Reynolds managed the club from 1915 until 1947 with a couple of short breaks in between. It didn’t take long for the team to become the best in the Netherlands and under Reynolds’ direction they won eight titles and two KNVB Cups.
The 50’s and 60’s
Ajax went through a slump throughout the 40’s but came roaring back in the 50’s and would go on to win two Eredivisie titles. Once Rinus Michels took over as manager the team began to thrive. Michels instilled in the team his “Total Football” philosophy and with Johan Cruyff acting as captain the team went on to four KNVB Cups and six Eredivisie titles. Winning three consecutive European Cups put the team in the history books being only one of five clubs that have successfully defended their title.
The concept of Total Football meant that each and every player contributed on the field and were able to play other positions. That meant that players weren’t limited by position and overlaps were available making the ball move from defenders to attackers quicker. Michels didn’t invent the idea rather he was inspired by how the Hungarian national team played. Here is how Total Football works.
The Next Generation
In the 70’s and 80’s Ajax would be a dominant team once again with the return of Cruyff only this time as their coach. Accompanied by a team of talented players their style of offensive football brought fans and results in equal measure. It would bring the team six Eredivisie titles and four KNVB Cups and now they would also win their first and only UEFA Cup.
Ajax is still a team to be feared today dominating in their division, but very few teams have enjoyed the success that Ajax has over the years.