'It worked miracles' - Van der Sar reveals inspirational talk with young Ajax talents

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The Dutch giants knocked out Real Madrid on the way to the Champions League semi-finals after keeping hold of key players

Edwin van der Sar says six of Ajax's young players were brought in for an inspirational meeting last summer to encourage them to stay at the club.

The club's CEO has revealed Andre Onana, Matthijs De Ligt, Donny van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong, Justin Kluivert, Kasper Dolberg and David Neres were shown a video comparing them to Ajax legends of the past who played in their positions. 

Van der Sar and director of football Marc Overmars hosted the meeting, and only Kluivert – who left for Roma last year – moved on subsequently.  

“We said: ‘If you want to be a legend of Ajax you need to win something big’. In my eyes it was really inspirational," Van der Sar told The Guardian .

“They had faith in the club. We needed to talk to the younger players: ‘Wait for us. Believe in us. We are going to make sure there is a team that is going to challenge.’ It has worked miracles for us. 

“Marc and myself have been players. We have flown the nest at a certain point to find another challenge and we know that is going to happen.

"That’s not a problem as long as they give two, three, four good years of service to the club, win the league, play amazing football. Then you can go. Also, for the young players from the academy to have a path to the first team we need to open up spaces. If you have no spaces then talent underneath is suffocated.”

The Dutch giants are renowned for producing talented youngsters and selling them on to Europe's top clubs, and Van der Sar added: "Those are waves that happen at Ajax and now it is down to us to make sure we are more on the crest of the wave than the trough.”

The Champions League has not been won by a team outside of the top five European leagues since Porto lifted the trophy in 2003-04, but Van der Sar hopes this season's campaign has reminded fans of Ajax's past dominance. 

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“If you have a love for sport, everybody knows the success of Madrid in the 60s, Ajax in the 70s, Bayern Munich and so on," he continued.

"In the last 20 years, many things have changed in the world of football, mainly on the TV and commercial side.

A lot of clubs have lost the perspective of what is a football club. For us at Ajax it is all about football. We have TV rights and a shirt sponsor but we are a country of eight or nine million so to compare to the top five leagues around us it is small change.”

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