Bosman was born on February 1, 1965, in Bovenkerk, under the smoke of Amstelveen. Since age six, he plays at the local football club, Roda’23. Nine years later, the small midfielder leaves for RKAVIC in Amstelveen. In the meantime, Bosman also played in the Amsterdam youth team. This was the place where he caught Ajax’s eye.
It’s 1981, and John Bosman and the Amsterdam youth team participate in the 'Four City Tournament' in Amsterdam. The sixteen-year-old left a good impression against teams from Berlin, Bern and Vienna. "I remember scoring 1-0 against Vienna; it was a header. I saw that goal later because my dad had filmed it." After the match, a man comes up to him to ask if he would be interested in playing for Ajax. "I said no because I felt good at RKAVIC and wasn’t ready for the next step", Bosman says, laughing. But when Ajax approached him again in 1982, he accepted the offer.
We show him the team photo from the 1982/1983 season, his first year wearing the Ajax shirt. "I think this is the U19 team, but there are also a few boys from the U15. I think they later called it the Ajax reserve team." Bosman can tell us something about almost every player in the picture.
Edwin Bakker is one of the first ones he recognises. "That was a really good midfielder. I think he made it to professional football, but he struggled with many injuries. That’s why he never really took off in Ajax 1. That was odd to me because his movement was similar to Cruijff's. His son, Mitchel Bakker, played for Ajax too, but now plays in Italy at Atalanta Bergamo."
When Bosman takes another close look at the front row, he sees more familiar faces. "John Bussink and Danny van der Moot were two true Amsterdam boys. Straight forward, but with that typical Amsterdam type of humour. They made sure we had a good time." To conclude, it’s Michel de Bruyn that rings a bell. "I was in service with Michel; that was still mandatory in those days."
Once Bosman turns eighteen, the midfielder-turned-striker has to report for military service in Den Bosch. By then, he had debuted for Ajax 1 and is part of Aad de Mos’s team. "The military service was not easy to combine with playing football at Ajax. You had to spend five weeks in Den Bosch, where we could train at FC Den Bosch in the evening after our shifts." But that was all but ideal for the young Bosman. "You had to report at 06:00 and would return to bed by 00:00. Luckily, I could play football at Ajax during the weekends, but it was a completely different rhythm than what I was used to."
Even though Bosman would have liked to spend his time training, he looks back at that time with a good feeling. "I had to dig a well and have it checked by a sergeant. But during that check, he would stand on the edge of the well, making it collapse, so I had to start over again. Or we had to march for ten or twenty kilometres through streams and ditches. I would walk through water with heavy bags on my back and my gun held above my head." But besides working, there was time for relaxation, too, during his time in Brabant. "I was almost the only one with a car because Ajax gave me one. On our evenings off, I took some people into the city centre of Den Bosch with my Citroën BX to go out. Because I had my driver's licence, I was quite the man then."
Bosman looks back at the picture because the location where it was taken triggers more memories with the 58-year-old former Ajacied. "This picture might have been taken at De Meer, but we used to train and play at Het Voorland, which was right behind it. It looked more like a fancy amateur complex, but we always had our own field where we played." For the striker, it became clear quite quickly that things went differently at Ajax than at his amateur team. "More was demanded from me as a player. You played at Ajax, and you had to deal with competition. You had to show that you were the best player in your position. Slowly, we learnt that we were turning our hobby into our profession."
Most people know John Bosman as a centre-forward, but he spent quite some time in the midfield, too. Ajax 1 coach Tonny Bruins Slot turned the – now grown tall – Bosman into a striker. "I think it had to do with the fact that I was good at heading. I always did that. I liked heading, and I used to train with friends in the swimming pool. My growth spurt came a little late, but I jumped higher than most opponents."
The change of positions by Bruins Slot proved to be a success for Bosman and Ajax. After a successful period at Ajax, the forward played in Belgium, to later return to the Eredivisie again. By now, he started working for Ajax, this time as a youth academy coach. There, he tries to pass on his expertise to the talents of today. "I hope Ajax 1 will have a striker from the youth academy soon. Brian Brobbey is one, but sadly, a few strikers who came from the youth academy have left us in the last couple of years. Hopefully, that will change, and we will have the chance to show that Ajax talents get the chance to play again."