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FC Barcelona Blast From The Past: The Ajax Amsterdam Connection

Where stars are born...
Where stars are born...

Last Sunday, Ajax Amsterdam defeated Twente Enschede 3-1 in the Amsterdam Arena in the last day of the season to pip the visitors and win their record 30th Eredivisie title. And the reason I'm stating this is FC Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam have a lot of common ground when it comes to football. Same reliance on their youth players, same philosophy when it comes to football and a lot of the same players.

Here are some of the players to wear the jerseys of both these European giants.

Johan Cruyff

He is the principal player between these two teams. Cruyff started his career in Ajax, leading them to three straight European Cups before earning himself a move for a world record transfer fee to FC Barcelona. He would make his impact immediately by leading them to a La Liga title, but a larger impact would be made in the club's football philosophy. From the way they played football to the importance that La Masia played in their success, Cruyff was a significant part. In many ways, he is the "Godfather" of modern FC Barcelona football.

Johan Neeskens

The "Second Johan" moved to FC Barcelona a year after Cruyff. He was the perfect complement to Cruyff, a tireless worker at midfield. His time at Barcelona lacked silverware, but he was a fan favorite thanks to his performances. He played 5 years in Barcelona before accepting an offer to play with the New York Cosmos (?) in the NASL. He later returned to Barcelona and became second in command to former manager Frank Rijkaard, yet another Ajax graduate.

Ronald Koeman

The ever popular Koeman was not from the Ajax academy, yet he played for Ajax for three years before moving to PSV Eindhoven and eventually to FC Barcelona. Koeman was a centreback by trade but acted like a libero, as his long range passing and dead-ball expertise suggests. His most famous goal delivered Barcelona their first European Cup (nee Champions League). He came back as an assistant as well for one season and had notable stints as manager in Ajax, Benfica, PSV and Valencia.

Patrick Kluivert

The enigmatic striker came over after one disastrous season in Milan, but before that he had been instrumental in Amsterdam, helping them win the UEFA Champions League in 1995 by scoring a goal against Milan. He spent six years in Barcelona, scoring 90 goals before moving to Newcastle. Eventually his career got derailed by injuries, but not before being the Dutch national team all-time leading goalscorer.

Frank De Boer

The current manager of Ajax moved to Barcelona along with his twin brother Ronald in 1998. De Boer never reached the success they did in Ajax in Barcelona, but he was a steady left back/centreback for the team for five years. As stated above, he won the Eredivisie title with Ajax on his 41st birthday. Happy birthday indeed.

So there you have it. There are a lot of players that plied their trade for both teams, but few that went from Barcelona to Amsterdam (Oleguer is one rare example). Hopefully, this pipeline isn't going to shut down any time soon (Gregory Van Der Wiel *wink*wink*).

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