Ajax and NEC have finalized Jasper Cillessen’s transfer. The keeper has signed an agreement for five seasons in Amsterdam, until June 30, 2016. The transfer is effective immediately. The keeper will practice on Tuesday morning (open training) with the selection.
Jasper Cillessen joins the Ajax selection with jersey number 22. Originally he was given number 12, but the keeper’s father knew that number 22 has a special meaning for his son, and asked Ajax if it was still available. Cillessen explains his fondness for the number: “I was born on the 22nd, I made my debut with NEC last year with number 22, and, when I was with the Dutch team, I also played with number 22. Plus, I’m 22 years old now.”
The Groesbeek native makes the move from NEC to Ajax within a year. He played against Ajax twice as NEC’s keeper. “Ajax is, of course, a special club to play against. Playing for NEC, you want to do whatever you can to ensure that Ajax doesn’t become champion, because at the end of the season, you don’t want to hear that Ajax won the championship because of you. But as an Ajax player, you obviously see things differently!”
To earn a starting spot, he’ll have to fight it out with Kenneth Vermeer, who will remain first keeper according to Frank de Boer, who is pleased with Cillessen’s arrival. “We want three equal keepers in the selection. We saw last season, when Stekelenburg got injured, that this is necessary. Kenneth Vermeer was keeper for a large part of that period. It hasn’t happened in the last seven years that one keeper has played every single match. Of course we also have Marco Bizot. He’s been loaned out to Cambuur Leeuwaarden this season, and we’re pleased with his development. But he hasn’t yet reached the level where he’s equal to Vermeer. Kenneth is our first keeper. It’s not the case that a mistake of his would directly cost him his spot.”
But Cillessen is up for the challenge. “I think that I will have a great, exciting battle with Kenneth Vermeer to become first keeper. We’ll both be doing our very best to be first keeper.”
And he hopes to make his debut in an Ajax home game. “Just like last year (on August 28, 2010), I made my debut for NEC against sc Heerenveen. That was amazing. When NEC played against Ajax in the ArenA, there weren’t that many people in the crowd because of the heavy snow. That was too bad. But it will be great to play in the ArenA as an Ajax player.”