Tottenham Hotspur will take on Ajax in the first of the two Champions League semifinal clashes on Tuesday night, as both clubs look to make history by progressing to the finals.
While Ajax and Tottenham have illustrious histories in Europe, neither team has ventured this far into the tournament in recent years, and both clubs have eliminated some major powerhouses en route to the final four.
Another thing connecting the two clubs is the fact that four of Tottenham’s current players – Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen, and Davinson Sanchez, all played for the Amsterdam club before moving to Spurs.
Former Spurs manager Martin Jol who took over the reins at Ajax a couple of years after leaving North London recalled his experiences of managing the likes of Vertonghen an Eriksen when they were year young.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Jol said, “Jan Vertonghen is my player. I converted him from a left-back and midfielder into a centre-back at Ajax.
“Toby Alderweireld, I put him in the team as a regular. Toby and Jan played together for me, one was 20 and the other was 21.
“We had an unbelievable season, we only conceded four goals in the whole season at home.”
“Christian Eriksen made his debut with me, he was always playing with Frank de Boer in the Under-18s. He was 17 and I took him from the youth and he didn’t even play for the Under-21s. I put him straight into the first team.
“I think Christian is now the most influential midfielder of his type in England. When he is not playing, you get a different Spurs. He makes them tick. He wants the ball all the time, he has so much confidence.”
The Dutchman also expressed his affection for Tottenham, and said that he is looking forward to visiting the new stadium soon.
He added, “I haven’t been yet (to the new stadium), but I still have friends at the club and they send me all the pictures secretly from the inside! I love the people at Spurs. It’s my club.”
Spurs Web’s take:
Tottenham and Ajax certainly have a lot of similarities, not just in the fact that they have progressed to the semifinals despite being underdogs, but also in how the clubs are run.
Both clubs have a historic Jewish connection, and have always had a tradition of playing entertaining, attacking football. The fact that so many players have represented both clubs in recent years, further adds to the connection between the clubs.
That is why the tie is set to be a fascinating one for the neutrals, as both teams will come into it with great belief.
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