Groundhopper Guide to Ajax

Carter Lawson · Profile
Groundhopper Guide to Ajax

With periods of dominance from the 1960s to the 2020s, Ajax are the most successful club in The Netherlands. Combine that with their Amsterdam location, and seeing a game at Ajax is a high priority for many groundhoppers.

Here is our Groundhopper Guide to Ajax, which by the way is pronounced “AYE-yax.”

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Contact:, 088 – 18 3 1900, #Ajax

Nicknames: de Godenzonen (Sons of the Gods)

Ajax History

Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax, or simply Ajax, was founded in March 1900 in Amsterdam and within 11 years they had reached the top division of Dutch football. They only lasted 3 seasons before they were relegated, but they made a quick comeback and with the help of one of their most successful managers, Englishman Jack Reynolds, won the KNVB Cup (Dutch domestic cup) in 1917, their first major trophy. They continued their success the following year when they were crowned national champions. They repeated their championship the following year in dominant fashion, going undefeated and becoming the first Dutch team to do so.

During the 1920s Ajax had decent regional success, but weren’t able to gain any significant national success. However, they had a significant breakthrough in the 30s when they won 5 national championships. They won their second KNVB Cup and an eight national championship in the 40s, then their legendary manager Jack Reynolds left the club in 1947.

In 1956 the Eredivisie was formed and Ajax was one of the original founding members. Ajax won this inaugural season, which qualified them for European competitions for the first time in their history. They won the newly formed Eredivisie again in 1960 and another KNVB Cup the following year.

There was a big shift within the club in 1965 when Ajax brought in former player Rinus Michels to become their next manager. Michels introduced a new system of play called “Total Football” in which every player can switch roles with other players when they get out of position to increase their efficiency and maintain the structure. Over time, this style of play became synonymous with Ajax and the Dutch national team. The year prior in 1964, Ajax legend Johan Cruyff made his debut and together with Michels, they would lead Ajax through the most successful period in the club’s history — based on “Total Football” but also a dedication to youth development which extends to the current day and is a fundamental part of the club’s character.

The year after Michels was placed in command, Ajax won their first of three championships in a row. In 1967 they also won the KNVB Cup, giving them their first domestic double win in the club’s history. They also reached the 1969 European Cup final, but lost to AC Milan. Despite this disappointing loss, Ajax went on to achieve the club’s second domestic double in 5 seasons.

In 1971 Ajax had their first taste of European success when they took down Greek club Panathinaikos in the European Cup final. John Cruyff was named European Footballer of the Year, now known as the Ballon d’Or. Despite their manager Michels leaving for Barcelona, the success continued when Ajax won their third consecutive KNVB Cup on the way to securing the club’s first treble victory. They followed this up by winning the 1972 Intercontinental Cup and the 1973 European Cup, making them the first club since the 1950s to win 3 consecutive European Cups.

Things began to slow down when Cruyff left the club in 1973 to join Barcelona, but he rejoined the club in the 80s and they immediately won two consecutive league titles. In the early 90s, with the help of new star Dennis Bergkamp and manager Louis van Gaal, Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup (now known as the Europa League). Ajax became the first team since the 1960s to win the league title three years in a row when they won it in 1994, 1995, and 1996. This included the 1994-95 season when the team went undefeated, which is a record that has yet to be broken; they also won the 1995 Champions League.

Ajax won their record 30th league title in 2011, and won it another 3 years in a row, setting a new club record with 4 consecutive league titles.

2022-23 SEASON: 3rd in the Dutch Eredivisie, KNVB Cup runners-up

2023–24 SEASON:Eredivisie (since its founding), Europa League (eliminated in group stage)

The Cruyff Arena

Ajax Rivalries

As one of the big 3 in the Netherlands, Ajax shares a rivalry with PSV and Feyenoord. The most famous rivalry in Dutch football is between Ajax and Feyenoord, called the De Klassieker. This game has often been used to see who is the top force in the Netherlands and these two teams dominated the league for a number of years prior to the rise of PSV. Rotterdam, the home of Feyenoord, is often seen as more working class than Amsterdam so this contributes to more hostility between the two sides of fans. Currently, no away fans are allowed at any ​​De Klassieker games.

PSV is also considered a rival as they are part of the big 3 but they do not share the same intensity of hatred that they do with Feyenoord. Matches between the two are referred to as De Topper.

Ajax Women’s Team

AFC Ajax Vrouwen was founded in 2012 and they compete in the Women’s Eredivisie. They have won several KNVB Cups and league titles in their short history and have participated in the women’s Champions League on a number of occasions.

Inside Cruyff Arena

Ajax Stadium

Ajax’s current stadium is known as the Johan Cruyff Arena, and they moved into it in 1996. The stadium has a capacity of nearly 56,000 and features a retractable roof, which has become a very popular addition to new stadiums in Europe.

Ajax Tickets

Tickets are tough to get but can be purchased directly through the club or through the club’s resale market. Visit Ajax’s ticket page to learn more.

Written By Carter Lawson
Carter Lawson, Content and Social Media Director · Profile

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