Miralem Sulejmani se encuentra en vísperas de un hito en su carrera. El delantero - quien sólo tiene 23 años de edad - puede jugar su partido oficial número 150 como jugador del Ajax contra el Roda JC. Sulejmani espera ansioso y con orgullo expresa su confianza inquebrantable en las posibilidades del Ajax en el campeonato.
Leading up to Ajax – FC Utrecht, Siem de Jong received a silver plate from Frank de Boer as thanks for his 150 games played in Ajax 1. That got Sulejmani thinking. Hadn’t he also almost reached that milestone? “I asked player supervisor Herman Pinkster about it and he looked it up”, says Sulejmani after Friday’s sunny practice at de Toekomst. The home match against Roda could be his 150th. If so then Sulejmani will be in the spotlight before the Ajax – Roda JC kick off. “150 is a special number. It makes the home game against Roda JC extra special for me. I’m only 23 and that’s why I’m so proud to already have played so many matches for Ajax.”
Sulejmani could also have asked his father about his number. Sulejmani senior keeps close tabs on his son’s statistics and is the curator of junior’s football memorabilia. Each prize, special ball, boot and jersey ends up in the ‘Miralem Sulejmani museum’ sooner or later.
Two months after signing his first Ajax contract, ‘Micky’ made his debut during an away match at Willem II. Despite a nice goal from the new acquisition, the season opener ended up in a 2-1 loss. “I wasn’t completely fit that day, I remember”, says Sulejmani, looking back on August 30, 2008. “It was nice to score, of course, but the end result wasn’t good. If it’s not perfect, you don’t have a great feeling about your debut, either. Although I did score a nice goal.”
Miralem Sulejmani also scored in his one hundredth official game with Ajax. But once again, the overall feeling after the game wasn’t good. Ajax took a 0-2 lead against Roda JC (Sulejmani scored the 0-1 goal), but, on February 13 2011, had to make do with a 2-2 tie. “Each game you play is special, but one hundred games is a milestone, so it’s extra special. I kept the match jersey. The match date is written on it. My father in Serbia has it.”
The inevitable questions leading up to his 150th match come: what were Sulejmani’s best and worst matches with Ajax? “Vitesse – Ajax. 4-1 loss”, is the first memory that comes up of a bad game. Ajax utterly failed in the Gelredome on that February day in 2009. “The team played with no power. We weren’t in the best period, actually. It was Darko Bodul’s debut match, and that made the result extra bitter.”
Sulejmani: “The championship match against FC Twente on May 15, 2011, still brings out the best emotions. The atmosphere was amazing. Purely for me, personally, the Ajax – Olympique Marseille UEFA Cup match in 2008-2009 was memorable. I played well and scored the 2-1 goal.”
After a week in which many Ajax players participated in interlands, new opportunities in the Eredivisie called. The Serbians played two practice matches midweek, in mini tournament format: against Armenia and Cyprus. Sulejmani played in both matches. “It can be a big plus, a big advantage, that we’re playing at home so much in the next while”, said Sulejmani hopefully. “We’ll play PSV at home; that’s a bit opportunity. The competitors are still playing in Europa League and will also meet each other, and that can be an advantage for us, too. Our point deficit against leader PSV is five points, and that’s not too big to make up. Last year, we were still going from match to match at this point. That’s what we need to do now. I believe in this team’s chances at the championship.”
Tickets are still available for the upcoming home match against Roda JC. Free ticket sales are in effect. Come cheer on Ajax against Roda JC in the ArenA during this crucial month.