‘This is the whole team’s cup’

‘This is the whole team’s cup’

The atmosphere was jubilant after the last whistle. After the celebration on the field and in the locker room, the brand new champions reported to the mixed zone to tell their story about the trophy. Jan Vertonghen and Vurnon Anita spoke to the press in soaking wet suits. And that resulted in some beautiful quotes.

With the trophy in hand, Jan Vertonghen left the locker room after first taking a dip in the bath. “I was more excited than ever’, said Ajax’s captain with a big grin. “Because I was looking forward to it so much, it seems more real now. We were completely charged up for VVV. I think that showed.” With two shots against the posts, the Belgian had put his words into action.

The goals were, just like in last year’s championship match, for Siem de Jong’s credit. After his two goals against FC Twente, he also took care of scoring both goals in the championship match against VVV-Venlo. “Siem kept scoring”, said Vurnon Anita after his 150th official match for Ajax. “He scores the goals at the most important times. That’s great for us.”

When he speaks of his own role, the midfielder is, as always, modest. “The season started a bit poorly for me. I ended up on the bench at a certain point, but I kept fighting. When I finally got my spot at midfield, things kept getting better for me and for the team also. The formula is simple: just work very hard and wait patiently for your opportunity. That’s what I did. My patience was rewarded.”
The championship match against VVV is among his personal top 3 of his 150 duels in the Ajax jersey. “This is my second championship, so both championships are among my greatest memories. Matches for a trophy are always special.” Considering his contract, which runs until 2014, many memorable matches are still in store for Anita. “I’m already looking forward to next season as we start the competition again as the reigning champions of the Netherlands. And of course play Champions League. We need to try and make it through the winter break in that tournament.”

So soon after the match, Vertonghen’s thoughts are limited to the short term. “Is it a shame to leave now? It is, a bit. Especially when I’m standing here with the trophy. But I haven’t left Ajax yet. First, we’re going to enjoy the championship together. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s celebration. It’s great that there’s a night in between this year, so we have some more time to let it all sink in.”

Anita has the last word. “The great thing about this title is that we achieved it as a team. We had so many injuries this season, which just emphasizes more that we all did it together. The substitute players made an important contribution.” Asked if the championship will be celebrated with champagne and beers, the brand new champion gives an appropriate answer. “I only drink during holidays. The season is still going on, so I’m not going to drink. I also need to drive. But even without alcohol, it’s going to be a great party.”