AFC Ajax’s Champions League History


This article will tell you about the UEFA Champions League history of AFC Ajax

Ajax Amsterdam is one of the most successful and storied football clubs in the history of the UEFA Champions League. The Dutch club has won the competition four times, including three consecutive titles from 1971-1973. It has reached the final on several other occasions.

In this article, we will take a look at Ajax’s Champions League history, from their first appearance in the tournament to their most recent campaigns.

The Beginning

Ajax’s first appearance in the European Cup, the predecessor to the Champions League, came in the 1957-58 season, but they were knocked out in the first round by French club Nice.

It would be another decade before Ajax would make a serious impact on the European stage, with their first significant campaign coming in the 1968-69 season.

Led by legendary manager Rinus Michels and a talented squad featuring Johan Cruyff, Piet Keizer, and Sjaak Swart, Ajax reached the semi-finals before being eliminated by AC Milan.

The following season, Ajax went one step further, reaching the final of the European Cup for the first time in their history. However, they were defeated 4-1 by Italian club Inter Milan in the final.

It was a bitter disappointment for the Dutch side, but it would prove to be a springboard for greater success in the years to come.

The Domination

The early 1970s are widely regarded as the golden age of Ajax Amsterdam, with the club dominating both the Dutch league and European football. Between 1971 and 1973, Ajax won three consecutive European Cups, becoming the first team to do so since Real Madrid in the 1950s.

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They did so playing a revolutionary style of football known as “Total Football,” which emphasized fluid movement and interchangeability between players.

Greatest UCL Players

The Ajax team of this era featured some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, including Cruyff, Keizer, Swart, Arie Haan, and Ruud Krol. They were managed by Michels, who had returned to the club after a brief stint with Barcelona, and his successor, Stefan Kovacs.

First Reign

Ajax’s first European Cup triumph came in the 1970-71 season, when they defeated Greek club Panathinaikos 2-0 in the final. The following season, they faced Italian giants Juventus in the final and won 1-0 thanks to a goal from defender Krol.

In the 1972-73 season, they completed their hat-trick of European Cup titles by defeating Italian club AC Milan 6-0 in the final, with Cruyff scoring a brace.

After their period of dominance in the early 1970s, Ajax experienced a period of relative decline in the late 1970s and 1980s. They reached the final of the European Cup in 1978, but were defeated by English club Liverpool.

They also reached the semi-finals of the competition in 1980 and 1988, but were unable to replicate their earlier success.

Further Success

Ajax experienced a resurgence in the mid-1990s, winning their fourth European Cup in the 1994-95 season. Managed by Louis van Gaal and featuring a talented squad including Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, and Jari Litmanen, Ajax defeated Italian club AC Milan 1-0 in the final thanks to a late goal from Kluivert.

They also reached the final of the competition the following season, but were defeated on penalties by Italian club Juventus.

Recent Performance

Since their last European triumph, Ajax has continued to be a force in European football, although they have not won the Champions League again. They have reached the quarter-finals of the competition on several occasions, most recently in the 2018-19 season.

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