By Stefan Coerts
With qualification for the knockout stages a realistic possibility for Ajax for the first time in years, thoughts of the team that conquered Europe in the 1990s with some breathtaking football are flooding back.
Superstars such as Frank Rijkaard, Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids took the Amsterdam giants by the hands and led them to their fourth European Cup in the club's history courtesy of a single Patrick Kluivert strike on May 24, 1995 against AC Milan.
Goal.com looks at what happened to the 13 players who featured in that final in Vienna and where they are now.
|Edwin van der Sar
The shot stopper was regarded by many as one of the top goalkeepers in the game during his years at Ajax and earned himself a move to Juventus in the summer of 1999. However, he failed to make an impact in Turin and eventually ended up at Manchester United after a four-year spell with Fulham. Van der Sar set numerous records at Old Trafford, won several trophies and even added another Champions League title to his trophy cabinet. Retired after losing the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2011 and has since started working as a pundit for Dutch TV station NOS.
Reiziger would stay with Ajax for only more season after the final in Vienna before leaving the Godenzonen for their opponents that evening. The right-back's stay at San Siro wasn't much of a success and he moved on to Barcelona after only one term. He instantly became a key member at the Spanish giants and made over 150 La Liga appearances before eventually hanging up his boots after brief periods at Middlesbrough and PSV. Reiziger recently got his coaching licence, but has yet to start his career in the dugout. He currently lives in Barcelona.
When Rijkaard returned to Ajax in 1993, he had only one objective and that was Champions League glory. So the centre-back unsurprisingly ended his active career after beating Milan in Vienna. He then took a few years away from the game before starting his managerial career in charge of the Netherlands in 1998. After leaving Oranje, he took charge of Sparta, but left again after only one season in Rotterdam. Rijkaard enjoyed his biggest successes as coach of Barcelona from 2003 until 2008, where he won two La Liga titles and one Champions League trophy. Currently in charge of Saudi Arabia's national side.
The defender showed no signs of retiring after winning the Champions League and stayed with the Amsterdam giants for four more seasons before throwing in the towel in 1999. Unsurprisingly, Blind returned to the Amsterdam ArenA in 2005 when he was appointed as head coach. Failing to guide Ajax to success, he didn't last long as trainer in Amsterdam and left for Sparta two years later for the position of director of football. Blind again made a comeback at Ajax in 2008 and is currently caretaker sporting director at the Godenzonen.
|Frank de Boer
Frank made well over 300 official appearances for Ajax before leaving the club for Barcelona in the summer of 1998. He enjoyed five relatively successful seasons at Camp Nou and then moved on to Rangers. He also wore the jerseys of Al Rayyan and Al Shamal before retiring in 2006. De Boer returned to Ajax as a youth coach in 2008 and eventually took charge of the first team in December 2010. He guided the club to their first Eredivisie title in seven years and is on the verge of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League with the Dutch powerhouse.
One of three players of the 1995 team who are still going strong. The 35-year-old bid farewell to Amsterdam after lifting the Champions League and moved to Sampdoria, only to join Real Madrid one season later. Seedorf won one La Liga title and another Champions League trophy with Madrid before once again being on the move. He had three relatively disappointing seasons with Inter before joining city rivals AC Milan. The midfielder has since developed into an absolute key player at the Rossoneri and has already made close to 300 Serie A appearances for Milan, winning a third Champions League trophy.
The injury prone Finnish midfielder is another player who loves the game too much to end his playing career. Litmanen stayed with Ajax until 1999 before moving to Barcelona and enjoyed a spell at Liverpool. Returned to Amsterdam again in 2002, but couldn't find the form of the old days and left them for good in 2004. The attacking midfielder has since enjoyed spells with Lahti, Hansa Rostock, Malmo, Fulham, and eventually HJK Helsinki, where he is still under contract at the age of 40.
Like so many other former team-mates, Davids also left Ajax for an Italian adventure shortly after the Amsterdam side's Champions League success. The combative midfielder struggled to make an impact at AC Milan, but became one of the best holding midfielders of his generation at Juventus. He won three Serie A titles with the Bianconeri before moving to Barcelona and eventually ended up at Ajax again after spells with Inter and Tottenham Hotspur. He hung up his boots in 2010 after a disappointing few months at Crystal Palace. Davids returned to Ajax earlier this year as member of the club's supervisory board.
The Nigeria international was somewhat of a cult figure in Amsterdam and its surroundings, but disappointed his numerous supporters by leaving Ajax for Real Betis in the summer of 1996. He quickly became a fans' favourite at the Spanish side, as well, as he made over 100 appearances for Betis. Finidi was less successful at Real Mallorca and Ipswich and eventually hung up his boots in 2004. Returned to Real Betis late in 2010 as the club's director of international football, and still lives in Spain.
|Ronald de Boer
Like his twin-brother, Ronald also stayed at Ajax until the summer of 1998, when he left the Amsterdam ArenA for Barcelona. Nevertheless, the former Netherlands international struggled to make an impact at Camp Nou and moved on to Rangers barely two years later. Enjoyed four rather successful seasons at the Scottish giants before moving to Qatar where he played for Al Rayyan and Al Shamal. He was an ambassador of Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid, and recently returned to Ajax as a youth coach.
The winger stayed put for two more seasons after Ajax's Champions League victory, before leaving the club for Arsenal. Overmars became one of the stars of the Premier League, and also enjoyed four good seasons at Barcelona after his transfer in 2000. He ended his active career in the summer of 2004 and returned to his boyhood club Go Ahead Eagles as sporting director. He briefly came out of retirement in 2008, but his comeback turned out to be temporary as he waved goodbye to the game for good one year later. He is still involved with the Deventer side as an advisor and works as a youth coach at Ajax, too.
The absolute star of that evening in Vienna enjoyed a superb career after leaving Ajax. An unsuccessful spell at Milan was followed by a move to Barcelona where Kluivert netted over 100 official goals for the Blaugrana. His career didn't get the end it deserved, though, after disappointing periods at Newcastle United, Valencia, PSV and Lille. The former striker is still the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer with 40 goals. Kluivert has since started his coaching career and has worked at AZ and NEC. He is currently in charge of Twente's reserves.
The Nigeria legend is the last remaining player of the golden generation of 1995 and is still playing at the age of 35. Kanu left Ajax for Inter in the summer of 1996, but a heart problem prevented him from making a real impact at the Nerazzurri. The striker quickly became a fans' favourite at Arsenal, though, after moving to north London in 1999. He won two Premier League titles and FA Cups with the Gunners before joining West Bromwich in 2004. He then moved to Portsmouth in 2006 and has since made well over 100 appearances for the Championship outfit.
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