when Ajax won the Champions League Look. When was this? Was that ’95? I think so.
– Do you? I’m sure you’re right. We played in Vienna. When we won the Champions League. When Ajax won the Champions League in
1995, they returned to the European elite. They did this with attractive football
and a home-grown team. Twenty years later, we look back on their
European success with some key players. This is Jari Litmanen, from Finland. Grandad still sees him sometimes. Litmanen. Ronald de Boer, with an assist by
Patrick Kluivert, is the one who scores. Marco van Basten. That’s the one. Kluivert, yes. Kluivert, 1-0. It’s snowing so I feel right at home. Can you find Grandad?
– Over here. Well done. You already had grey hair.
– That was because of Uncle Louis. He was my boss. Uncle Louis had replaced Don Leo
in September 1991. Assisted by Van der Lem and Haarms,
Louis van Gaal quickly made his mark. Don’t take that risk. One-touch football. The first year was key.
That’s when you lay the foundations. Let them do the job. In his first season
Ajax won the UEFA Cup. Ajax continued to improve the squad
thanks to outstanding scouting… …and their youth academy, producing
players such as Seedorf and Davids. Thanks to their scouts Ajax picked up
Overmars, Finidi George and Litmanen. The young squad had
the experience of Danny Blind. Litmanen, surely. What a great goal. And the experience of Frank Rijkaard,
who came over from Milan. In 1994 Ajax won the Dutch title
and qualified for the Champions League. They had a great squad. The only thing
they needed now was a good striker. I was sent to Brazil to look at a player. Together with Tonnie Pronk. Some guy called Ronaldo. There was some bluffing involved,
as we do in Amsterdam. I had my eyes set on Ronaldo.
– He was just seventeen. But such ball control and acceleration. Ajax tried but PSV
had the contacts because of Philips. Philips was a big company in Brazil.
Thanks to their contacts they got Ronaldo. That was a shame, but I had
already seen our youth team in action. I had heard rumours that the manager
was quite taken with me. I knew who Patrick Kluivert was,
and I said with much bravado: PSV have Ronaldo
but we’ve got Patrick Kluivert. And that changed things rapidly. He scored right away in the
Johan Cruyff Shield, the Super Cup. The winning goal. So he proved I was right. A beautiful attack and a beautiful finish
for Ajax by Kluivert. These three did it:
Litmanen, George and Kluivert. flying start Ajax started the Champions League
against AEK Athens, Casino Salzburg… …and giants AC Milan. They had just won
the Champions League. I believe they beat
Barcelona 4-0 in Athens. That was a baptism of fire. We were surprised that they showed up
in Amsterdam on the day of the match. As if the bigshots thought
they would easily brush Ajax aside. Inside the Olympic Stadium, with
AC Milan captain Franco Baresi here. We encountered Ajax in the group stage. We knew they had a strong squad. Well organised,
playing quick, technical football. We had seen the great Milan
lift the great trophy a couple of times. And we had one guy from their
dressing room in our team. Frank Rijkaard was greeted
by some Milan officials. Rijkaard used to be one of us. We won everything we could win. It was very special to see him
in the Ajax jersey. We were sad to hear he had decided to
leave us and return to his home country. He was a top player. He was invaluable to the young players
with his class and experience. This was a very special game to him. You could see the sheer class he had. He could really focus.
Usually, Frank was all laughs. But when things needed to be done,
he’d be ready and focused. He would take us by the hand
and lead the charge. Let’s see how Milan position
themselves in the first few minutes. This was a big test for us
and we were ready. De Boer. George,
emerging behind Maldini. Corner. You can sense it. If you keep losing
possession and they create chances… …you wonder where it will lead to. But it was the other way around: we were
in control and they didn’t create much. You could feel the pressure building
on their half. Davids, score… It’s wide. Things were going our way. We got the
tactics right and we executed it correctly. And things progressed as we had hoped. I controlled it. I must have thought
where to go and I took it with me… …and passed it with my left or right foot
to Patrick Kluivert. Baresi was behind him. I ran on
and my opponent was watching the ball. He didn’t mark me so I ran on
and I hoped Patrick would spot me. He spotted me
and he kicked it between Baresi’s legs… …and the ball came right in my path,
right in front of me. Like it was waiting for me to convert it. There’s Ronald de Boer
and there’s the goal: 1-0. It was a classic Ajax attack. A one-two,
he penetrates and he chips it in. What more could you want? The man with the number 9 jersey,
who supposedly didn’t score enough. A huge moment.
The crowd went nuts, the players too. Everybody jumped on me. We deserved the lead, we pressed on
and added the second goal. We had that fast chap
on the left-hand side, Marc Overmars. He was very dangerous with his speed. He would accelerate and float it in with
his ‘bad leg’, which wasn’t bad at all. I ended up in possession.
– Never give Jari such a chance. It was a goal, of course. And what a goal. Litmanen scores: 2-0. I hit that ball nicely. It was a liberating goal.
We knew it was over. If that’s the best Boban can do
for AC Milan, Ajax needn’t fear. It’s over, it’s 2-0. Credit to the whole team.
A well-deserved win. Frank Rijkaard in a key role for Ajax. Beating them with 2-0 gave us the feeling
that if we could beat them… …we could beat anybody. It was unexpected at the time,
but not for me, to be honest. But we passed the first test
with flying colours. But we beat them again that same year
so that says it all. That was an away game in Trieste,
not in Milan. That was not a bad game either. That was a historic moment. Ajax beat the European Cup holder… …in the opening game of
the Champions League season with 2-0. And this is a result
which will resonate in Europe. to the top Two weeks later is the first away game
in a hot Athens. It was quite a hot night in Greece,
to play football. It was an impressing atmosphere. Frank de Boer trying to find Litmanen.
Litmanen scores, I think? Yes. Well done. I remember it came
soon after the equaliser. And that was… …the long ball from Frank de Boer to me. I used to give the same
cross to Dennis Bergkamp. I crossed it to Jari, who controlled it
and finished it perfectly. It was a wonderful equaliser
and that gave us confidence. We controlled the rest of the game. Litmanen, pass it on to Kluivert.
He’s going to score. Kluivert with the finish. We were 1-0 down
and still managed to get the 2-1 win. At that moment I thought: not only do we
have six points after two matches… …but this side can go far, too. The match against Salzburg is played in
Vienna, in the venue of the final in May. These were very difficult games. Chance for Litmanen. He hits the post. They knew how to play against us:
Give Ajax the ball and just wait. We couldn’t find any gaps.
We left with a goalless draw. An opportunity for Ronald de Boer,
who almost scores. Kluivert with the header. At home it was disappointing. You expect
more in a packed Olympic Stadium. Certainly against this team.
But we were down 1-0. The cross, and there it is:
Kocijan with the goal. We kept hammering the defence,
to no avail. It’s an impenetrable wall,
but Davids found a gap. Now, then. Again, it was Jari Litmanen
with the goal. Litmanen, he scores with his left. If you can’t win a game,
make sure you don’t lose. Just end up as number one or two
and progress to the next round. And one point can be important. master class against Milan Sharp gazes as Ajax line up
for the away game against Milan. Due to a UEFA sanction, the game isn’t
played at San Siro stadium but in Trieste. I was disappointed we couldn’t play
at San Siro. Because San Siro was one of the
stadiums everybody wanted to play. I remember why we had to play
in Trieste instead of San Siro. That certainly did not help us. They needed the points to secure
the second spot in the group. They wanted to win, they wanted revenge. They made their intentions clear
right away. We opened the score early. I can’t remember which minute
but it was quite early. Not the first minute.
Maybe the second or third. I got the ball from Reiziger, took it on the
chest and Jari made his move. I flicked it in the open space just behind
Baresi and Costacurta and Jari was gone. He controlled the ball and drilled it in.
Fantastic start. And it’s in. He doesn’t waste any
opportunities when he gets a chance. Just like yesterday at the training. Ronald had the vision and was a very
gifted player in possession. I was confident that he’d see me
and reach me. It was a perfect pass. I went to the side to create
some space for myself… …and to be able to fire it
in the far corner. Litmanen was a player that was
very hard to defend. He was often in the midfield
but also in the attack. He was very intelligent, scored easily… …and gave the defence a lot of trouble. Van Vossen is onside. De Boer. Great control there. We dominated the game.
We were fantastic. One of my best
Champions League games. It was a very hard match for us
and we were struggling. They played twice as fast as we did. Ajax were much more dynamic.
Milan were struggling. The 2-0 was a bit of a lucky goal.
An own goal from Baresi. Litmanen, George. Finidi George. And an own goal.
Baresi of all people. 2-0. It was a deflection, right?
I did that. I remember the second one
was an own goal. But in the end Ajax deserved the win. It was a big team with big players. But if we got to play the way that we
could, we could dominate the game. It was a dreaded opponent.
They could win the cup. Mikkelsen has blown the final whistle. It was a fantastic game. Another confirmation, another victory
that felt like this was leading somewhere. Ajax are through already.
Back to Hilversum. The last group match
was against AEK Athens. It was the match of Tarik Oulida. With two goals, the midfielder
became man of the match. Magnificent strike and the goal by Oulida. Seedorf. He can stay, just like Oulida. Credit to Van Gaal
for not taking the youngsters off. And Oulida scores his second goal. With a 2-0 win, Ajax were still unbeaten. They could focus on the quarterfinal
against Croatian team Hajduk Split. happy against Hajduk With a wonderful crowd,
in a wonderful ambiance. Quarterfinals Champions League.
Great line-up. Tough opponent,
as we had seen in the away game. It was 0-0, which is never a good result. So it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. But in the end it was
a regular 3-0 victory at home. Litmanen. Kanu is there and that’s it.
Nwankwo Kanu. Kanu was a terrible header
but scored anyway. Nice chap. Fantastic player. The great thing about Kanu was that
neither the opponent nor his own team… I don’t think even he knew
what he would do, or when or how. He was pure instinct. Beautiful. Like a grenade went off. There’s Frank de Boer and it’s 2-0. I headed it just like we used to train. I headed it at the near post
towards the goal and it was deflected. Fantastic moment for me,
my first Champions League goal. Frank de Boer. In the top corner. I had been feeling good for a while. Especially about my free kicks.
And it went in beautifully. Fantastic. With a shot like that,
you’re a class player. It’s a great feeling to score
an important goal as a defender. And Craciunescu blows the final whistle. Ajax set aside Hajduk Split relatively easy. boss of Bayern Two bastions of European football
facing off in the semifinal. Overmars, and there’s Kanu. It was not an exciting match. We didn’t get into a lot of trouble,
although there must have been moments. Zickler. Frank de Boer with the foul
and he gets booked. And he will miss the match in Amsterdam. He will be sorely missed. Maybe it was for the best that I got then,
or I might have missed the final. After a good 91 minutes
Ahmet Çakar blows the final whistle. It was a great result for us. We knew that we’d score at home. Welcome to the catacombs
of the Olympic Stadium. Tense faces
of the Bayern and Ajax players. Winning the game… …no matter how we played, but that
meant the Champions League final. I was so nervous.
I was at the NOS. As a co-commentator. It was terrible. My mouth was so dry. I was so nervous
because it was out of my hands. It was one of the worst moments
of my career. It must be a wonderful feeling to step
onto the pitch of this Olympic Stadium. You can’t play badly
in such an atmosphere. There are a couple of games in your
career, in my case mostly with Ajax… …that nearly reach perfection. Pressing forward aggressively,
collectively as a team. Winning possession
and dictating the game. This match had it all. Ajax win the ball. And the applause of the
manager, who kept hammering at this. Corner Finidi. Helmer heads it out,
the organiser of the Bayern defence. Seedorf brings it in. There’s Rijkaard. And Litmanen. And Kuffour. Ronald de Boer. 1-0, Litmanen. This is what Ajax had been waiting for.
The goal in the tenth minute. Seedorf brings it in beautifully,
Rijkaard wins in the air. Litmanen against Kuffour at first. There may have been some contact
but he tried to get a free kick, of course. Good decision by the referee.
I barely touched him. Unbelievable. De Boer. Well played.
Finidi. Kanu. Kanu. The bar. Then came the cold shower when they
levelled the score in a counter-attack. You could hear it in the stadium. What if. There’s Witeczek with the header
and it’s 1-1. 1-1, now Bayern Munich would progress. The change came
ten, fifteen minutes before half-time. We started to press again and drove
our opponents back aggressively. That’s what we did. Ajax hit the post and the crossbar
and scored once. Litmanen. Overmars. Finidi.
Good golly, what a goal by Finidi George. Finidi was known for his cross, the speedy
winger who would give the cross. He wasn’t supposed to be
in the centre of the pitch. But thank God he showed up anyway.
Whatever he was doing there. Him of all people got the ball. Very unlike him,
he just took a swing at the ball. Finidi.
Good golly, what a goal by Finidi George. Good golly. Then came the liberating 3-1. A hard corner kick,
just as we used to train. One goes to the near post and
heads it on. I used to be at the far post. I saw the header coming,
ran into position and: boom. There’s Kanu.
And there’s Ronald de Boer and it’s 3-1. One minute before half-time. And the clinched fist of Louis van Gaal. Another well-practised corner by Ajax. A fantastic first half. When the whistle blew, we crossed
the cinder track to the dressing room. Passing all these people
behind barriers. I can remember the emotion
and the aggressive joy of the people… …who were swept away by our play
in the last ten minutes. There was a sense
of euphoria in the stadium… …that was intensified by André Rieu. We’re now switching live to the Olympic
Stadium to the party of André Rieu. We made it 4-1. That was my goal. Yeah, well, 4-1. Litmanen pivots. 4-1. Great goal by Litmanen, good attack.
And he drilled it past the goalkeeper. Litmanen hammers it
past the Bayern goalie. Good shot. Witeczek comes in. Good effort. Blind keeps the ball out. That was a special moment for me. I had missed
the European Cup final of 1987. It should have been a red card. It was a deliberate handball,
although I tried to mask it. I think I did that pretty well. But in the end, it was a handball
and it should have been a red card. A final is a final. If you can’t make it to that stage,
that’s heartbreaking. I’m eternally grateful to Sándor Puhl.
And I let him know after the match. A tense Louis van Gaal. But it’s Scholl with the penalty and
Van der Sar nearly saves it but it’s 4-2. After the 4-2 I intercepted a ball,
which could have easily been the 4-3. Scholl, and well done by Van der Sar. Sheer class,
magnificent interception. This could have been a turning point. Litmanen picks it up. Kluivert. Overmars. Now, then. Yes. The knock-out for Bayern Munich. It was 5-2 in the end. It was a superb match at the highest level. I only remember the result: 5-2. And I remember that that was the first
match where my current wife attended. I had invited her to a game of football. Fantastic atmosphere,
everybody was ecstatic. We’d reached the final.
Want more could you want. Such a young team making headlines
at the very highest level. Such a result and such perfect execution
gets the fans on their feet. victory in Vienna On 24th May, elegant Vienna played host
to the Champions League final. For the first time since 1973 Ajax could
win the greatest European Cup. For the second time that season Ajax
played in the Ernst Happel Stadium. And for the third time
AC Milan were the opponents. Full of confidence. But we knew this was
an entirely different match. The previous two don’t count. The third time Milan. You’d say third time lucky but on the other
hand, let’s hope it falls our way again. You dream of that trophy
and now you want to win it. We had some experience but for most
players this was their first major final. But our opponents played
major finals almost every year. Yes, AC Milan was very experienced. It was our third final in a row.
But experience isn’t everything. It’s never happened that a champion
defends the title successfully. They had the chance. They had reached
the final despite losing to us twice. I was nervous for this match.
Not just because it was the final… …but also because beating the European
champions three times was too much. This is the kick-off of the 1995 edition. We started okay but then we let it slip,
largely because of our own game. We didn’t make use of the space
that Milan gave us. Litmanen. It was an open game.
We didn’t have the upper hand, nor Milan. It was an open game. Milan might have
had a few more chances in the first half. But we had our chances, too. Maldini, of course. Donadoni. Panucci. Corner. Simone is unmarked. Simone totally unmarked
and Van der Sar with the save. I remember Simone had a shot. But I think they were
better organised than us. Desailly gets his boot high up. I thought his leg was quite high up. The referee disagreed. Jari nearly got decapitated there. Louis jumped up, ran to the side
and did that move. He nearly toppled over, too. Van Gaal demonstrates how high it was. We were struggling so you use every trick
in the book to influence the game. That rarely works. You can shout
all you like but they won’t hear. But if you seize the moment to do
something extraordinary, it might work. But it’s emotion, it’s not a conscious
decision to influence the game. But if you do such a thing, you know you’ll
influence the referee and linesmen. And that turned out to be the case. The linesman started flagging
so I told Louis: Let me take over.
They’ll think it was me. What to do about it, says Craciunescu,
who’s looking at Van der Lem now. I got reprimanded
but it was Louis who did the karate kick. That’s how high it was.
Not easy to reach that height. In a suit. Yes, I saw it. Were you surprised?
-No, not at all. It looked good.
He was right up there. I just told you I used to be a PE teacher.
And I was a lot younger then. But I reckon I could still pull it off. It didn’t go as planned. Rijkaard had the experience
and knew Milan. And he knew
this was one of his final matches. He said something and so did Van Gaal. That most players wouldn’t get another
chance to win a European title. And that they had to
put their best foot forward. How often do you play
a Champions League final? You tell me. Maybe once. If you’re lucky, twice. Now is that one time.
It’s now or never. Frank didn’t say much,
certainly not in front of everyone. He used to say things face to face. But he spoke up and that made
a big impression on the players. Frank was as sharp as a knife.
Unbelievable. Luckily, we managed to turn it around. It wasn’t your game.
Later on we found out why that was. I had a hay fever reaction. So I didn’t train with the group
in the week before the final. I was busy with substitutions. And I thought, as you do, that I might
influence the game that way. Not from the sidelines
but with substitutions. The coach looked at the bench
and said: You can go. You know you’re going to play
and help out the team. You hope to play the final
and you worked hard for it. But as a player,
I knew that I was not 100 percent. I saw the coach on the other side
trying to change things. I was very anxious to do a quick warm-up
and get on with it. I put in Kanu and Kluivert,
two strikers. So I believed that we could win. We could sense that this game
was ours to win. And then there was that attack.
Over the left-hand side. Marc Overmars kept it in. Passed it to Edgar. Edgar passed it horizontally to Frank,
Frank Rijkaard. He set it up.
Normally, you’d return the ball to Rijkaard. But I received the ball as I was heading
towards the goal. It was just in front of me. So I dashed away
flanked by Boban and Baresi. Just outside the box, the ball
came to Kluivert with his long legs. I could anticipate, but I was just too late. The ball bounced once and I just got
the toe of my left boot to connect. The toe. With the toe. The infamous toe-shot. Unfortunately he scored,
and that was the end of it. Davids, Rijkaard. Yes… Kluivert, yes. Kluivert,1-0. I ran off, I couldn’t breathe,
as you can see in the replay. I ran off, turned my shirt back to front… …and I get stormed
with four minutes on the clock. They hugged me. But I couldn’t breathe. I pushed them away
because I couldn’t breathe. We won thanks to Kluivert’s toe-kick. You see him raise his arms and run off
and the ball’s in the back of the net. That is surreal. As an eighteen-year-old,
scoring the winner in the final… …that’s just… …just unbelievable. I was happy, just like everybody
who rooted for Ajax. So… I was simply happy. And you don’t have any other thoughts. At that moment we got punished.
Maybe it was fate. They had done more and deserved to win. When the referee blew the final whistle,
you thought: Christ, what have we done these past
four, five years? What have we done? Unbelievable. We are the best in Europe. There’s the final whistle
and everybody’s all over the place. Rijkaard here, Kluivert there. I remember that everyone
was either hugging someone… …or running somewhere. Everybody was ecstatic. Where’s Kluivert going?
To the fans on the far side. I had never been so happy. Surreal. We had won it,
with the team that we had. Fantastic achievement. Rijkaard went the other way,
at his farewell. He started crying.
With his hands before his eyes. Like… This is… He radiated this energy:
This is the prize. The beautiful image
of Davids and Seedorf. The Amsterdammers. Ajax win this battle in Vienna. That’s a unique moment,
especially when you’re the first as captain. It’s the biggest prize you can win
with your team. It’s incredible to win
with such a young team. That made me very proud later on. Holding it, giving it a kiss, that’s… I think every player has that image
after winning it. Or at least in your imagination.
Not many players get the chance. When you hold it in your hands,
you realise you did something incredible. I completely lost it. I believe I ran to
the corner and cheered on my knees. And then I sought my teammates
to celebrate the victory. It was mad. We were completely ecstatic.
Everybody was. party Back in Amsterdam
it was absolutely crazy. There’s the plane.
Look, would that be the one? Look, guys. Isn’t that fantastic? That was fun. At first I thought it was a bit too much but
when I saw that crowd, I thought: wow. Above the Museum Square,
we were in the plane… …the plane started to tilt. And you could see the crowd below.
It was packed. We had caused quite a stir.
And the aviation folks even let us do this. That was fun.
You don’t get this every day. Does it take so long?
– So they can take one last wee. Are you nervous to see your son?
– Very. I’ve got an itch in my belly. Butterflies. No, butterflies is when you’re in love
and an itch is when you’re nervous, right? So I’ve got an itch. I don’t know how she got there
but she pulled it off. So my mum was there.
That was very moving. She could wait for me on the stairs.
The door opened and… Wonderful. It’s always good to see my mother.
– Emotional? Absolutely. There’s Danny Blind. It’s great that it brings so many people
together and brings them so much joy. The best party I’ve ever had. That an entire city comes out… Isn’t it a beauty? And it’s yours. As an eighteen-year-old boy
you just take the mic and go crazy. You know.
Doesn’t get any better. We practised that a lot at the time. That was fantastic
but for me it was the canal boat… …when it really hit home. That trip with the canal boat, with all these
people in the canals and the windows. So many people, and each and everyone
of them came to cheer you. That was a form of appreciation
that I enjoyed thoroughly. The trip with the canal boat was terrific. In 1988 we’d seen it on TV… …and seven years later it was our turn
in a canal boat with all these people. It was out of this world. An incredible feeling. It’s etched in my memory. I’ll never forget this. That was fantastic.
I’ll never forget this, it’s a part of me. It always brings a smile on my face. They could touch you. They just
jumped into the canals. Unbelievable. So many people, so much red and white.
So much joy and appreciation of the fans. That’s beautiful. That was the best boat trip
I’ve ever had in Amsterdam. That was very special. We’d never seen Amsterdam like this. You must have gone crazy.
– Completely. Don’t you think? Great, huh. Yesterday, too.
– Sure, and today. And tomorrow and the day after and next
week. And in two weeks. And in a year. future in Europe Marvellous, isn’t it?
– It’s still special. And it’s heavy, too.
Or am I just getting old? Probably. You can’t take it home, though. Lovely. It’s yours, Amsterdam. After the Champions League, Ajax win
the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo. They continue to impress in Europe…. …culminating in a master class
against Real Madrid. Ajax win their third league title in a row
but the season lasts one game too long. It was fantastic winning it in ’95… …but my biggest disappointment
was not winning it again in 1996. Another save. That’s it, then. Not one club won it two times in a row. But we came close. The following year
Ajax reached the semifinals. But after losing key players and Louis
van Gaal, they slip from Europe’s elite. That gap has increased ever since
but Ajax still hope for European success. We did it twenty years ago. With the team we’re building now… …we hope to replicate that success again. It will be hard to keep a team together,
as it was back then. I was more confident then than I am now. That a Dutch team, Ajax in this case,
could win the Champions League. They had written the same thing
ten years before we won that cup: That a Dutch team would never
win the Champions League. We proved them wrong, too. You need all the pieces of the puzzle
and I’m confident that will happen. But it won’t last. You can’t expect
a nineteen-year-old… …to have the same experience
as somebody who’s 30 or 28. It’s going to happen
that a well-organised team… …will get the chance
to win the Champions League. Even with a small budget. Money will buy you players
but not a better team. You have to keep the dream.
It’s bound to happen, I’m sure. But everything has to click.
That’s what we’re looking for. For us, it’s not going to happen anyway. We don’t play anymore. Finidi.
Good golly, what a goal by Finidi George. Like it was yesterday.
It’s still on people’s minds. It was a fantastic time. Time went by so fast. Looking back you realise
what it is you actually achieved. With a smile on your face. That too. Twenty years later,
the admiration for the Ajax team of 1995… …that won the league unbeaten and won
the Champions League, has only grown.