This Wednesday, Ajax face off against Manchester United in the Europa League final. If they win, the Dutch club will have picked up their first European trophy since winning the Champions League in 1994/95. That victory saw them defeat the holders, Italy’s AC Milan, by one goal to nil.
The Ajax side of 1994/95 was a special one. A mix of Dutch veterans and youngsters alongside some international players, Louis van Gaal’s team were idolised across the world at the time. Growing up in the 90s in the UK, when European football was just gaining a higher profile, they were the first team that I really remember being amazed by. The majority of football fans were enthralled by Ajax and their system.
It was for good reason. The 1994/95 Ajax team that won the Champions League saw practically every player go on to have massive success once the side broke apart following a loss in the 1995/96 Champions League final to Juventus. Here’s what happened to them thereafter...
Goalkeeper: Edwin van der Sar
Van der Sar was just 24 when Ajax defeated Milan. By that stage, he was already the number one keeper for the Netherlands, and went on to feature in four European Championships and two World Cups. By the time of his international retirement in 2010, he’d achieved 130 caps – a record for a Dutch player.
Van der Sar stayed at Ajax until the end of the 1998/99 season, before a move to England with Fulham, where he could easily have faded out. Instead, he became one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalkeepers over four seasons at Craven Cottage. Eventually, he was signed by Manchester United where he acted as their #1 for six seasons, winning the 2008 Champions League along the way – in a penalty shoot-out nonetheless, saving the key spot-kick from Nicolas Anelka.
A brief 2016 comeback notwithstanding, he retired at Manchester United in the summer of 2011. Van der Sar now acts as Ajax’s chief executive – which means he’ll be rooting against his old club United on Wednesday!