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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Ajax's glorious victory over Real Madrid puts star players in shop window like in 1995

The European Cup triumph nearly 15 years ago sparked interest from the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan and led to the break-up of a great side

Ajax will revel in the glory of their triumphant night in Spain and rightly so.

The Dutch side dumped European champions Real Madrid out of the competition with a special 4-1 victory to book their place in the quarter-finals.

It was the club's first knockout tie in 13 years and there's now a feeling that this could finally be the occasion they come close to equaling the heroic efforts of 1995, when they surprisingly overcame AC Milan in the final.

But the downside of this success is the potential break up of what has developed into an exciting young team, with six of the starting XI at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night aged 22 and under.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Real Madrid v Ajax Amsterdam - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - March 5, 2019 Ajax players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Susana Vera
The Ajax team ahead of their match with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on March 5, 2019. Reuters

A look at what happened to the squad following the triumph 14 years ago in Vienna is a warning.

Looking back at it now, the starting XI reads like a who's who of Europe's finest players in the late 1990s and early 2000s - but how many of them stuck around at Ajax?

Here's the answer:

GK: Edwin van der Sar - joined Juventus in 1999

RB: Michael Reiziger - joined AC Milan in 1996

CB: Danny Blind - retired at Ajax

CB: Frank Rijkaard - retired at Ajax

LB: Frank de Boer - joined Barcelona in 1999

CM: Clarence Seedorf - joined Sampdoria in 1995

CM: Edgar Davids - joined AC Milan in 1996

AM: Jari Litmanen - joined Barcelona 1999

RW: Finidi George - joined Real Betis 1996

LW: Marc Overmars - joined Arsenal 1997

ST: Ronald de Boer - joined Barcelona in 1999

SUBS:

GK: Fred Grim - retired at Ajax

DF: Winston Bogarde - joined AC Milan 1997

ST: Nwankwo Kanu - joined Inter Milan 1996

ST: Patrick Kluivert - joined AC Milan 1997

ST: Peter van Vossen - joined Istanbulspor in 1995

24 May 1995: The Ajax team pose for a photograph before the European Cup Final against Milan in Vienna, Austria. Ajax won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/Allsport
The Ajax team pose for a photograph before the European Cup Final against Milan in Vienna in May 1995. Allsport

The exodos wasn't instant - with the exception of Seedorf, the squad stayed together for another assault on the European Cup, and it almost paid off as they reached the 1996 final, only to be beaten on penalties by a Juventus side which contained the likes of Gianluca Vialli, Alessandro Del Piero and Fabrizio Ravanelli.

Nine of the '95 Ajax final squad were in the starting XI for the '96 final. The team then broke up as Kanu, Finidi, Davids and Reiziger moved on, with more departing the following year to bigger clubs.

Of the current crop, Frenkie de Jong has already signed for Barcelona, while Matthijs de Ligt is being coveted across the top European leagues.

Hakim Ziyech, the Moroccan, is another who would command a substantial fee with 18 goals this season.

Meanwhile, Dusan Tadic, who often cut a frustrating figure in the Premier League with Southampton due to his obvious but often wasted talent, was a revelation at the Bernabeu and has scored 26 times this season.

Premier League, La Liga and Serie A scouts will have taken note, just as they did in 1995 when Kluivert prodded in the winner.

Updated: March 6, 2019 02:37 PM

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