Ajax: the most loved and loathed club in Holland

07 Dec 2016

If you mention the name Ajax anywhere in the world, everyone will know what you're talking about. Amsterdam's legendary football club has become a household name in large part due to its concept of total football.

Yet despite, or perhaps, owing to its success the Dutch either love or hate Ajax and there's no middle ground. According to an annual study by Football International (Holland's biggest football magazine), Ajax boasts the most supporters of any club in the country, which is estimated to be around 3.7 million. Ajax also has the biggest stadium in the Netherlands with a capacity of 52,960 seats and its supporters' club is the largest by far at about 85,000 members. Ajax easily surpasses all other teams with these impressive statistics, but as we mentioned there are another 13 million people around the country who would rather gouge their own eyes out then watch the club win another cup.

This aversion could very well be the result of the perceived arrogance that surrounds Ajax. As a rule a capital's club is less popular in the rest of the country in general and when no prizes are won by other teams cockiness can breed resentment.

In the 1970s Ajax wrote a new chapter in the history of the club building on a successful period that began in the 1930s under the English trainer Jack Reynolds. After arch rival Feyenoord set an example by seizing the first ever Dutch European Cup for League Champions, Ajax improved on this achievement in the next three years.

In 1972 the 'world cup for teams' was added to the side's already full cabinet of trophies. In these days Ajax was synonymous with a new concept known as total football. According to this system the ball is passed around very quickly and not only the attackers can score. The system was propped up by Ajax's number one icon: Johan Cruijff. He was named best European footballer in 1971, 1973 and 1974. However, such is the fate of Dutch football clubs and Ajax soon lost its best players. Johan Cruijff left for Barcelona, a team close to Ajax’s heart.


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