Galásek: 'In the Czech Republic, they find it unbelievable that I was the captain at Ajax'


Tomás Galásek, a humble leader. The Czech technician caused a furore in the Ajax shirt between 2000 and 2006. He reached the magic limit of two hundred games in the Ajax first team and in this period captured the national title (2x), the KNVB Cup (2x) and the Johan Cruijff Schaal (2x). The ex-Ajax player celebrates his 50th birthday on Sunday 15 January, a great time to catch up with the current assistant Czech Republic national team coach.


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The Amsterdam adventure began for Galásek in the summer of 2000. He made the switch from Willem II to Ajax along with head coach Co Adriaanse. "I knew it was not going to be easy at Ajax, but gladly accepted the challenge. There are players who are not considered good enough after one year, but I was lucky to play for Ajax for six years", says a modest Galásek, who currently lives in Germany.

'Ajax is family to me'
In Tilburg, a number of prominent figures frightened the Czech midfielder. "They said that because of my modesty I could not cope with the toughness of the club. Many people told me Ajax was a cold club, but it never felt that way to me. The players took good care of me from the very first moment, allowing me to adapt quickly. Ajax became family for me."

Champions League-successes
Galásek reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in the 2002/2003 season. In the first group stage, Ajax finished number two behind Internazionale, qualifying the Amsterdam team for the second group stage. "We played against Dennis Bergkamp's Arsenal -  those are huge matches to be able to witness. Because of the good results, we also went through and that provided additional satisfaction."

"The game against AS Roma was also brilliant," Galásek continued. "Andy van der Meijde scored a wonderful goal and we eventually advanced to the quarter-finals, where AC Milan were our opponents. Thanks to Ajax, I was able to play such wonderful matches as a Czech player. I will always cherish those memories."

Galásek's last game in the service of Amsterdam also went slightly differently than hoped. The Czech midfielder ended his Ajax career with the cup win over PSV in 2006, but did have to leave the pitch early due to two yellow cards. As Ajax captain, Galásek was handed the cup by Marco van Basten. "That was a wonderful moment. I used to watch him on television and suddenly he was in front of me. The picture of this moment still hangs in my office."

Galásek really likes the fact that he got to wear the captain's armband in Amsterdam, but did not realise as a player how special it was. "I did not experience this as consciously as people in the Czech Republic. They found it unbelievable that I wore the captain's armband at Ajax. Not everyone succeeds in being a captain at such a big club. It's a nice appreciation that you get."

Coach's career
After Galásek hung up his football boots, he decided to go to school to learn the coaching profession. During his playing career, the Czech never thought he would become a coach. "Nevertheless, I started taking a course pretty soon. I also did an internship at Ajax to test whether it was for me. I am glad I did this because the coaching profession still gives me a lot of pleasure. My wife always says I can't do anything other than a position within football," he concludes with a laugh.

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