Litmanen joins Ajax Podcast for birthday special: ‘Ajax gave me time”

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It’s Jari Litmanen’s birthday! The Ajax legend turned 50 on February 20, 2021. A wonderful milestone in the life of the Finn, although he thinks otherwise, “I feel more like 'thirty plus'. Anyway, people remind me that I turned fifty,” he says with a laugh on the new Ajax Podcast.

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Listen to Jari in the Ajax Podcast through this link!

In the podcast, the Finn looks back on his stints at Ajax. He names UEFA Champions League victory in 1995 his best moment in Amsterdam. “But I was so very tired after that game. I drank one glass of champagne and went to bed.”

Litmanen’s success at Ajax was not a given. In a trial period at Ajax, he had a poor first day. Assistant coach Gerard van der Lem was about to give him the bad news, when just in time, the Finn was moved to the "10 position" in a friendly game.

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“I had always played in a 4-4-2-system. My role was to run, get the ball and score. At Ajax I was given additional tasks. I played right midfielder in my first game. That was not my position. On my second day I got another chance, scored four goals and provided two assists. Trainer Louis van Gaal came to me: 'Can you come walk with me?'"

It was then that he was told that Ajax wanted him after all. “Sometimes you have to be lucky with timing. The whole environment was perfect. I was 21 years old, with the right players, the squad. It took me one year to get to know the culture at Ajax. I never got that time at many other clubs. At Ajax, I did.”

 

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