Finidi GeorgeGetty

Finidi George: Real Madrid couldn't afford Nigeria legend's transfer from Ajax

  • Finidi played two Champions League finals
  • Real Madrid were interested in him
  • Nigerian joined Real Betis from Ajax instead

WHAT HAPPENED: The Dutch heavyweights were keen on re-building the team after failing to conquer Europe in the 1995/96 season when they lost to Juventus on penalties in the Champions League final. After a 1-1 draw, the Old Lady of Turin converted four of their spot-kicks with Ajax managing to score two.

The ex-Nigeria international was one of the players who were put on sale by the team after that disappointing night at Olimpico Stadium in Rome.

WHAT DID FINIDI SAY? "After our Champions League final defeat to Juventus, the coach made it clear that they wanted to sell me, and even if I stayed back at Ajax, I was not going to play," the Nigeria assistant coach told Supersport as quoted by Soccernet.

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"At that time, Real Madrid were interested in signing me but as at that time, they didn’t have the kind of money that they have now.

Finidi BetisGetty Images

"Real Betis then came with a good offer and I had to go. My stay there was memorable. At Real Betis, I scored in the final of the Copa del Rey the following season against Barcelona. Real Betis were defeated 2-3 by Barcelona after extra time.

"It was a big game. Real Betis did everything they could but it was not possible [to win]. Barcelona had the edge, they had the experience."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The now 51-year-old won three Eredivisie titles with Ajax as well as two Johan Cruijff Shields. He was part of the team that won the 1994/95 Uefa Champions League, the Uefa Super Cup in 1995 and the Intercontinental Cup the same year.

At Betis, the only great milestone was to reach the Copa Del Rey final but they were undone by Barca.

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DID YOU KNOW? Finidi was part of the Nigeria team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and played in two World Cups.

WHAT NEXT? The former attacker is keen on helping Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro to qualify the team for the 2023 Afcon in Ivory Coast. After the loss against Algeria in a recent international friendly, the West African nation will play Portugal in November.