Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said on Tuesday that he was proud of Ajax after the Dutch club eliminated defending champion Real Madrid from the Champions League.
De Boer is a legend at Ajax from his days as a player (1988-99) and manager (2010-16). As a player, de Boer helped the club win the UEFA Cup and Champions League in addition to five league titles. As a manager, he helped the club win four more league titles.
Ajax defeated Real Madrid 4-1 at the Bernabeu in Spain to overturn a 2-1 deficit it carried into the second leg. Ajax advanced through a Knockout Round stage for the first time since 2002-03.
“I’m proud of them, especially what they did today,” he said as part of a preview of Atlanta United vs. Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League. “The confidence they had. It was a great match and a great match for Holland.”
Atlanta United hired de Boer partly because the club wants him to bring the style of play that Ajax has made famous.
Ajax ripped apart Real Madrid’s beleaguered defense on Tuesday and could have won by more goals if not for a few misses.
“For me, that’s their style, that’s Ajax style,” he said. “It’s a style they have when they are at home.”
It was shocking to watch because not only has Real Madrid won four of the past five Champions League titles, it also one of the richest clubs in the world with a roster filled with pricey, international stars.
Ajax, on the other hand, typically stocks its senior roster with products of its academy. De Boer played and later coached in the Ajax academy (2007-10). Developing youth is another area of de Boer’s experience that Atlanta United hopes to take advantage of. The team has several players 20 years old or younger on its roster, including Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Lagos Kunga, Patrick Okonkwo and George Bello.
Here’s a great read on what the win meant to one Ajax fan, the great Leander Schaerlaeckens, who is a must-follow if you enjoy reading about soccer.
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