Stefano Denswil joined the Ajax Academy as an Under 9 in 2001. 12.5 years later the defender is knocking at the gates of Ajax’ first team. High time for Denswil to reflect on the most important facts, figures and dates of his Ajax career.
2001: Denswil begins his Ajax career as an Under 9s player at the Ajax Academy.
Stefano Denswil: ,,I remember Joop Leeuwendaal and trainer Dennis de Haan’s excellent reception clearly. I was still an attacker back then, a left-winger. Sometimes I played left-back position. As a youth player you should simply do what you enjoy. Play football, have fun. I remember we had a great group. I am the only one of that group to have stayed with Ajax. The rest dropped out along the way.’’
28 July 2011: Joining Ajax’ first team for practice for the first time.
,,I received a phone call and was asked to join the first team for practice. Even on my way to the club I could hardly believe it; I didn’t take it seriously at first. As youth players on the Under 19s we fooled around a lot, joking about one of us being allowed to join the first team sometime soon. Once I arrived at the club though, it turned out to be true. Once I realized that, it became serious business. Joining the first team for practice means you have to show them what you’re worth.’’
5 February 2012: Selected for the first time on the squad of Ajax’ first team (Ajax – FC Utrecht). Frank de Boer: ‘Denswil is a true Ajax defender. He has good posture and technical qualities.’
,,It’s different once you’ve been selected for the squad. Everything moves faster, the opponent is smarter. It is important to look at the player in your position: how does he deal with things, how does he solve certain situations? You have to do exactly the same, of rather, even better. Nerves didn’t play a part, although there was some healthy tension, of course. My fellow players prepared me well, too. Once you’re allowed to play, you simply have to do what you’re good at. There’s no need to be nervous. At first I barely spoke; I adopted a quiet attitude. Later on that changed. At Ajax they expect you to participate and join in the discussion. You automatically become a part of the group. I am a true Ajax player, in heart and soul. I am proud to have been playing for Ajax for almost 13 years now. I have come up through all the teams at the Ajax Academy and I have had the best youth trainers in the world. Now I train with mister Stam and mister De Boer. That’s what every boy dreams of, isn’t it?’’
30 June 2012: Unofficial debut in a friendly against SV Huizen. Denswil opens the score with an own goal.
,,It was an unfortunate moment, scoring that own goal. I mustn’t dwell on it. It can happen to anyone. You have to get past it during the very same match. You’re just as likely to go on to score a ‘good’ goal or give a beautiful assist. I’m quite good at getting past moments like that; that’s one of my qualities.’’
Denswil makes his official debut against ONS Sneek; the debutant scores, in the Friesian goal.
,,When you debut in a cup match, you have to be there 100 percent. You simply have to play a good game. Only then will the manager be happy. You have to grab every opportunity you’re given. You have to show them what you’re worth. When someone leaves the squad and you can play his position, then you have to be there, at the ready.’’
19 July 2013. A new season is dawning, brimming with new opportunities.
,,I’m wearing number 24 this season. Last year it was number 34. The number on my jersey doesn’t really matter much to me, but 24 is a nice number. Although I do of course hope that one day I will lose that 2 and become number 4. I hope we will be able to achieve our objectives with this squad. A part of that is to progress further in the UEFA Champions League, compared to last year. It would be great if I could get more playing time. I want to invest in myself for that, anything to make it harder on the manager.’’
,,I would like to adopt mister Stam’s attitude. Wherever he used to play, his opponents feared him. An opponent can be smarter or faster than you are. But if he tries to get past you, you simply have to commit a slight foul sometimes. He’ll think twice before he tries that again. You have to be smart. I do have that intimidating quality in me, but sometimes I don’t take certain situations seriously enough. Once I lose that, I hope to have the same attitude as mister Stam.’’
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