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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

From Kluivert to Kluivert: Six of the best Ajax graduates of the past 21 years

In the years between father and son graduating from the famed Dutch academy, there have been a host of top stars who have used Amsterdam as their own launchpad

Justin Kluivert has followed in the footsteps of father Patrick by leaving Ajax for Italy. Getty Images
Justin Kluivert has followed in the footsteps of father Patrick by leaving Ajax for Italy. Getty Images

Patrick Kluivert

At 18, he scored the winning goal for Ajax in the 1995 Uefa Champions League final. Two years later, he had moved to AC Milan, from where he swiftly went on to Barcelona to win the Primera Liga in 1999, and embellish his reputation as a 'complete' centre-forward, with a deft touch, and strength as a target man. Won 79 caps for the Netherlands, scoring 40 international goals.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Chose to join the Dutch giants aged 19 from Malmo in his native Sweden largely because of the club's reputation for accelerating the development of young talents. He scored some breathtaking goals for the Dutch club, and won the first of his barely broken series of league titles with Ajax, going on to finish top of various leagues with Juventus, Intern Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain. Spent two years at Manchester United before moving to Los Angeles Galaxy where he is making an immediate impact.

Wesley Sneijder, left, is the most capped player in Netherlands history. Getty Images
Wesley Sneijder, left, is the most capped player in Netherlands history. Getty Images

Wesley Sneijder

Brilliant, diminutive playmaker who inherited the fabled number 10 jersey at Ajax, where he came up through the youth system. Real Madrid paid what was in 2007 an eye-catching €27 million (Dh114.3m) for Sneijder. He won the Primera Liga with Madrid, and, on joining Inter Milan, won a Serie A title and the 2010 Champions League, starring for the Netherlands, for whom he holds the record for appearances, in that summer's run to the World Cup final.

Luis Suarez

Suarez joined Groningen in Holland as a 19 year-old. Ajax snapped him up a year later. In three and a half seasons there, he turned into one of Europe's most prolific scorers, and although there were disciplinary issues of the sort that would pepper his career, Ajax was an environment where he flourished, his 49 goals in 2009-10 attracting the attention of Liverpool, from where he joined Barcelona.

Christian Eriksen, centre, became an Ajax great before moving to Tottenham Hotspur. AP Photo
Christian Eriksen, centre, became an Ajax great before moving to Tottenham Hotspur. AP Photo

Christian Eriksen

The Dane, following in the footsteps of compatriots Michael and Brian Laudrup, became an icon at Ajax in an era when they were losing some of their status in European terms. Eriksen's subtle football and vision were a reminder of the club's fine creators of the past. Inevitably, his talent outgrew the confines of the Eredivisie, but he patiently waited for what he felt was the right stage of his maturity to move to Tottenham Hotspur.

Justin Kluivert

The son of a celebrated father, Justin Kluivert, still 19, is very different sort of player than dad Patrick, who was himself the son of a Surinam international striker, Kenneth Kluivert. Justin is a small, pacy and exciting winger, who, like Patrick, reached a major European final with Ajax as a teenager, in his case the 2017 Europa League final against Manchester United. Already a Dutch international, he joined Roma this summer.

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