Schöne pushes his limits

Schöne pushes his limits

He was seen by many as nice back-up reinforcement when he joined Ajax one year ago. After his first season in Amsterdam, Lasse Schöne (27) has proven to be much more than the ideal reserve. The Dane has played in almost all matches and has been important with goals and assists. “You need to show every single day that you want to be on the squad.”

The championship frenzy made way for a slightly hung-over feeling at the end of May. Soon after winning the championship with Ajax, the Danish national team suffered a painful 4-0 loss at home to Armenia. This cast a brief shadow on the top season that he had just had with Ajax. “I didn’t play during that interland, but I was there. Fortunately, I was able to look back on a top season with Ajax fairly quickly.”

It was a top season for him, personally, as well as for the club. Ajax’s third national title in a row was Schöne’s first one as a professional football player. After years at sc Heerenveen, De Graafschap and NEC, he reaped the rewards directly in his first year in Amsterdam. “That’s why I came to Ajax. I wanted to win prizes, that that happened directly. Fortunately I was able to make a good contribution in winning the title. I’m proud of that.” He was originally seen as additional back-up reinforcement. But the Danish international proved otherwise during the season. He played in 32 of the 34 competition duels, and made his debut in the UEFA Champions League. “I came to Ajax last summer with a specific idea. To succeed here, you need to show every single day that you want to be there. You can’t slack off for even one day. If you let your guard down even briefly, there’s always someone ready to take over your spot. That requires that you push yourself to the maximum every time. You push your own boundaries.”
Mentally, Schöne feels like he’s grown a lot in the past year. “With Ajax, you need to win each match. I saw that as a challenge. It’s great to see that at Ajax, a tie is seen as a loss. Therefore, you’re continuously demanding the most from yourself and from others. And that makes you stronger as a team.”

In the friendly match against Dynamo Dresden, he played at midfield again, where he enjoys playing the most. But Frank de Boer regularly played him as a right winger during the last matches of the competition. This turned out to be quite a discovery, because a missing link suddenly fell into place with Schöne on the right flank. “That position wasn’t new for me. I played it regularly at my previous clubs. But by Ajax standards, I’m not really a classic right winger. I’m more like someone who goes into a combination and goes towards the inside. That’s where my biggest qualities are. But I did like playing on right flank. I just want to play and it doesn’t really matter where. But I do have a preference for the midfield.”

This symbolizes Schöne’s driven nature as well as his selflessness. The Dane likes to put the team first, before himself. A team where everyone has his say, as he experienced last season. “We have a group in which everyone is comfortable giving his opinion – both the younger and older players. Everyone says something and everyone’s opinion is respected. That’s one of the reasons we form such a tight team. And when things aren’t going as well, we’re not too polite to keep each other sharp. If I tell someone that he made a bad pass, it doesn’t mean that I’m attacking that person. You say things like that to help your team mate improve.”

Schöne has his own areas for improvement, as he says himself. “I definitely don’t feel like I’ve learned everything. I know what I can do better. It’s important that, in addition to my weaker points, that I continue to improve on my strong areas too. With that approach, I can become an even better, more complete football player. I’m only 27 years old, after all. My best years are still ahead of me.”