Ajax bade farewell to Maarten Stekelenburg during halftime of the championship match against VVV-Venlo. The keeper left Ajax for AS Roma in August 2011. “You still feel like you belong to Ajax, that doesn’t change,” said Stekelenburg, soon after completing his lap of honour in the jubilant Amsterdam ArenA, a setting with which he’s very familiar.
By looking at the statistics, it’s unthinkable that ‘Steek’ would leave without being honoured. With his 282 official matches in Ajax 1 and fifteen years of loyal service to Ajax, he was bound to receive a public goodbye. The fact that it had to wait until the end of the season was due to practical reasons. “The schedule didn’t allow for it before now”, explained Stekelenburg. In the end, the championship match against VVV-Venlo was the perfect background for his goodbye. “There are worse games in which to have your farewell”, smiled the North Holland native, and Roman employee. “It’s a special day. And it’s an honour that afterwards, I can give out the trophy with Sjaak Swart. I’ll try not to drop it this time.”
Together with his wife Kim and son Siem, Stekelenburg completed his lap of honour around the ArenA grass. After hearing warm words from Wim Jonk, of the technical heart, and representatives of Ajax’s supporters association, the keeper received several gifts. “You get goose bumps in a full ArenA like this. This is great. Obviously, that’s because I played here for so long. Last season, I followed Ajax mostly on Studio Sport. I miss the club sometimes, especially the people within Ajax. I’ll always feel like an Ajax man.”