Now that ABN AMRO’s name will appear on Ajax jerseys (youth teams, amateurs and Ajax Women) as of January, naturally the period during which the bank was Ajax’s main sponsor is remembered. With ABN AMRO on the jersey for 17 years, Ajax had great success.
The name ABN AMRO appeared on Ajax’s jersey for the first time in 1991-1992. The bank’s name took over from TDK, the club’s first jersey sponsor. With ABN AMRO as the new main sponsor (just like now, spelled vertically on the jersey’s red band) Ajax posted immediate success in Europe.
Under the leadership of young coach Louis van Gaal, Ajax won the UEFA Cup in May 1992 by defeating the Italian team Torino in two matches. By winning this prize, the Amsterdam club joined a prestigious rank of top clubs who have won all three Europacups (Europa Cup I/Champions League, Europa Cup II, UEFA Cup). Only Bayern München and Juventus had achieved this at that time. Later, Chelsea joined the list, when the London team won the UEFA Europa League in 2013.
Winning the UEFA Cup was the start of a golden age. Under Van Gaal, the Ajax train steamed through the Netherlands, Europe, and finally, the world. A new prize was added to Ajax’s prize cabinet in each station. The highlight etched in the memory of every single Ajax fan is this date: May 24, 1995. Ajax won the Champions League in Vienna. AC Milan was defeated 1-0 thanks to a goal by Patrick Kluivert. In November of that golden year, the first World Club Cup was won (after penalty kicks against Gremio).
Furthermore, Ajax played with ABN AMRO on their jerseys during the finals in Tokyo (which was against the rules), but it took nothing away from the joy. Upon returning to Amsterdam, Van Gaal spoke these famous words: “We’re the best, not only in Amsterdam, but in Rotterdam, Eindhoven, and Europe, so we are the best in the…” The answer was cheered by the crowds at Museum Square in Amsterdam: the world. In a few years’ time, the first ABN AMRO years, Ajax had grown into the best club in the world.
The World Club Cup was the team’s ninth prize with the new main sponsor. Their domination from the mid-nineties never returned, but fourteen more fantastic prizes have been earned in the years afterwards, among which four national championships and five KNVB Cups. Great players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Luis Suarez and Siem de Jong all made their Ajax 1 debut in an ABN AMRO jersey.
With the return of ABN AMRO to Ajax’s fold as the partner of the Toekomst, hopefully more golden years are yet to come. And who knows, history may be made again in the first six months. Ajax A1 is currently making a great impression in the UEFA Youth League. Ajax’s highest youth team defeated defending champion FC Barcelona and is the proud leader in the pool. The Ajax Women are leading the BeNe League rankings. Will they be crowned as the best team of the Netherlands and Belgium for the first time this year? It could happen…the signs are there.