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The birth of Ajax and Total Football ... the era of winning three European Cups in succession.

The Fog Game - Dec. 7, 1966

When we talk Classic Games, many many candidates come to mind. But this particular one is the Mother of All Classic Games! Johan Cruyff calls it his favorite match ever. And looking back, this 1966 game between the Champs of England (and probably one of the best teams in the world, back then) and Ajax can be called the birth of Dutch Total Football, culminating in Oranje's demonstration in 1974.

[...]

Right winger Sjaak Swart: "It was a fairytale, no one believed it actually happened."

Rinus Michels was hired as Ajax' coach in 1965. The season before, Ajax almost got relegated. Never before performed Ajax that bad. In Michels second year, Ajax wins it's first European game against Besiktas and Liverpool comes out of the draw for the second round. Ajax normally would be too light for those teams (Benfica and Real Madrid are two other contenders) but under the inexperienced but tough Michels, the team starts to settle and find it's rhythm.

But England won the World Cup that year and Liverpool is the fave for the title in the European Cup. Still, the gutsy Amsterdam rebels feel that something is possible.

[...]

After the match, Bill Shankly isn't fussed. "I wasn't too impressed with Ajax. They got lucky. Next week in Liverpool we'll beat them 7-0."

Ajax prepares well for the return. Bill Shankly, meanwhile, starts playing his mindgames. He tells the press: "Ajax got lucky. That goalie, Gert Bals, wouldn't even play in our amateur teams. They're in for a hot night and their physio better bring heaps of stretchers."

Ton Pronk: "His words did have effect. Shankly made it seem as if our win was an anomaly. So, we were motivated to the teeth."

Rinus Michels knows about the magic of Anfield and the power of the fans' singing. To help his players get accustomed, he sends them onto the pitch really early. So they could get used to the atmosphere. Sjaak Swart: "I will never forget that. There we were. Alone on the pitch, facing The Kop. And they all started singing You'll Never Walk Alone. I'd never heard that song, but I got goosebumps. I've always been a Liverpool follower since."

[In Liverpool a very talented Johan Cruijff scored two goals and the home crowd was silenced ... after the match (2-2) Shankly entered the Ajax dressing room to shake the hands of each individual player saying: "The war is over, you won."]



Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Wed May 8th, 2019 at 07:01:35 PM EST
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