Match of the Day spin-off show with the latest from the world of footie as well as top players and pundits.
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Hello and welcome to a very special episode of MOTD Kickabout. This week
we come to you from Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Known
for its cycling, canals and... Ajax Football Club!
This is a club whose youth academy has produced some of the greatest
players of all time. Footballing superstar is and teams that have
dominated European football from the likes of Johan Cruyff and Marco van
Basten to those who have lit up the Premier League Lake Dennis Bergkamp
and Edwin van der Sar and they are still producing top-flight
footballers today. How is it possible for only one club to
produce so many world-class footballers? I have come to
Amsterdam to answer that very question and to find out how the
Ajax Youth Academy is simply one of the most successful and the world.
Coming up on to the's shall dash -- coming up: I get access to the Ajax
youth system. One of the greatest players of all time, Johan Cruyff,
shows me how to do the Cruyff turn. Have I got the skills to make it at
Ajax? A Premier League legend puts me to the test.
Ajax of Amsterdam is one of the biggest names in European football.
This is a club that has won the Champions League, UEFA Cup and the
Dutch league 32 times, all with players mostly brought through its
own youth academy. At the heart of its success is this place. Where the
future generation of Ajax players are made. Before you can play in the
Amsterdam Arena, they have a long journey to go. And it all begins
here. Let us take a look around. How are you doing, a pleasure to meet
you. I can show you around. Brilliant. Like lots of the coaches
around, Wim Jonk is a former Ajax player but he is now in charge of
the youth academy. Wim Jonk, what is the aim of this
youth academy? We aim to be the best academy and the world. That is our
biggest goal, to reach the top in Europe again. What would the youth
academy look at and young children, what do they look for to get into
the top? We focus of the hall on the technical side. We give them a ball
and teach them tricks. We give them lots of things to learn, we give
them homework so that they can work at home with a football and had it
against a wall. What ages do we begin at? Seven or eight years old.
From then on we build the academy. Ajax has 12 youth teams plus the
second youth team. At every level the play and train in exactly the
same way. They all focus on what they call tips, which stands for
technique, insight, personality and speed. We always play with a 4-3-3
formation. This way we can find the holes and the opponents defence.
That is the main thing for us to focus upon. Our philosophy is to be
aware that there is always space. Ajax are not just interested in
looking after the football skills of children, they try to look after
their school work as well. Ajax really is a club for life and
many of the coaches and backroom staff are former players themselves
and I am not talking Sunday Week. -- Sunday week. That is Manchester
United's former goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar, he is in charge of
marketing. Marc Overmars as a coach and that is Frank de Boer, the
former Dutch international who is the current manager. He was also
responsible for this amazing past to set up Dennis Bergkamp for one of
the greatest World Cup goals of all time. What legal! My name is Frank
de Boer. I am the first team coach at Ajax Amsterdam. We are depending
upon our youth academy. It is important that every year or every
two years they are to or for nuclear is that come through that into the
first team because we know that when someone is developing that well and
the first team after two years at a big club in England or whatever big
leagues in Europe, they will come to buy those players. We must be
prepared to fill that gap once more with quality players. There are 215
players in this academy, all hoping to make it into the first team. One
such hopeful is this 18-year-old goalkeeper. My name is Xavier. I am
the goalkeeper and the youth team since the age of ten. There are a
lot of good goalkeeper trainers. We do not have this quality at other
clubs I do not believe. Hopefully if everything goes right I would get
into the first team year and possibly move to the Premier League,
for me, it is the best league. For players like Xavier to make the step
into the first team, Frank de Boer has fitted a close eye on what is
going on at the academy. It is very important that the first-team coach
is involved and interested in how things are going with the youth
teams. In two years time they could be part of the first team, so I must
know what the development is of the players.
Frank de Boer, what an absolute legend! He is not the only great
player to have led this incredible club and then left to go on to do
fantastic things. Some of their best exports have played in the Premier
League. Here is my top five. A dangerous run, and it goes into
the net. Anelka and Overmars! He scores. If
anyone deserved a goal it was Marc Overmars.
It has come to Steven Pienaar! What a fantastic strike.
That was an absolutely terrific save from Edwin van der Sar.
Yes, he has done it. What a fantastic moment for Dennis
Bergkamp. There are some huge names and that's
top-flight. Many players that stranger will one day hope to play
in the Premier League. A man who did that was Christian Eriksen. He spent
five years before being signed by Tottenham Hotspur. I recently caught
up with him to relive those Ajax fees.
It's driven by Christian Eriksen, well-hit.
Christian, you have played for Ajax and no gardening for Tottenham in
the Premier League. What was it about the Ajax Youth Academy that
made you choose that? It was a long way from Denmark. My first choice
was always Ajax. As a technical player like myself, I thought Ajax
would be the best option. All of the people, everything there, for a
young player it is fantastic. What is a day in the life at the Ajax
Youth Academy like? I would strain for four hours in the morning. At
2pm we had further training. One or two times each week you would have
two players and the trainer working on your passing. It is incredible.
You try to pick up a lot of hints and tips. After one week I was not
allowed to speak English because they wanted me to speak Dutch. So
they teach you how to be a man and not just a footballer? That is
correct. We have heard about the rich history
of the club and seen some of the players and you get an impression
that he will continue to make an impression on the Premier League.
They learned their trade on the pitch. As soon as they are brought
into the first team they must have the skills required. At that only
comes with years of coaching. One of the guys whose job it is to train
the stars of the future is the former Nottingham Forest winger
Brian Roy. What better way to find out about the skills than to give it
a go myself. My cat is on, let us do it!
What winners tend to do always as they always want the ball into their
feet. -- wingers. It is much easier to get in front of the goal without
the ball than with the ball. OK, I am a midfield player. We're the
cameraman is, that is your opponent. Most players will stay where you are
at the moment and passed the ball here. But the thing is, the opponent
are high up in their own half and you have to run into this space. So
you are going to run, run, run, run! You get into the space and you
score! When the winner gets hold of the
ball, he goes straight at the opponent. The higher you get, the
older you get, when you get into this position, and you are running
straight against your opponent, you will never win your one V1. Frank de
Boer, you will never beat him when you go straight at him. So what you
must do is when you get the ball put it into that position. I can then
look up to see if I can make an early cross. If I cannot, then I do
my thing again. I thought you were going to teach me a trek but what
you are teaching the is how I can be part of the team rather than just
being an individual. That is correct, excellent. Very good
answer. The Ajax skills masterclass does not
end there. Now, I genuinely cannot believe I'm
about to say this, but to put this into some sort of context, if you
ask any football expert who the greatest footballers of all time
are, they'll mention Pele, Diego Maradona and they'll mention the man
standing to my right, his name is Johan Cruyff. Thank you very much.
This is an absolute pleasure to meet you. Cold, eh? It's very, very cold!
Johan, we're at the Ajax Youth Academy, what does Ajax mean to you?
Well, my whole youth I have been here, until the age of 26. Then when
I was 33 I came back. I played for a few more years and I enjoyed myself.
And it was on the training pitches of Ajax where Johan mastered
possibly the most famous trick of all time, the Cruyff Turn. He left
him for dead! Now, I am in my Ajax kit, I have got
a football here and I am standing next to one of the greatest players
of all time, I'm going to have to ask you, could you tell me the best
way to learn the Cruyff Turn? First of all, in my opinion, you play
football with your head and you use your feet. So it is always, the
situation is what you see and then react with what you can do. So it is
always fooling the opponent, which means you want him to do what you
want and then you can do what you want. It's always the same thing,
use your eyes and fool the opponent. Right, here we go. That's a little
too far, but... But you must be alone on the field,
because... Thank you so much, it's been an absolute pleasure. It's
freezing and you have come out to speak to us, thank you. You're
welcome. Children start that the Ajax academy
as young as seven years old and for a lucky few their dreams can come
true right here and the Amsterdam Arena with a capacity of well over
50,000 people. It really is an incredible stadium. This, for me,
has been an incredible journey. I have met some absolute legends and
it has been a privilege to be here. This is a club that is determined to
develop their players from an early age.
For generations they have produced some of the best players in the
world. It is so clear to me that many of the future world stars will
begin their career that year, and do you know what, they may even end up
playing in a Premier League club as well.
Steven Pienaar, going alone, what a fantastic strike! Terrific save from
Van der Sar! Ed Orr davits, one of the great midfielders of his
Match of the Day spin-off show aimed at kids aged seven to 13, bringing viewers the latest from the world of footie as well as top players and pundits.
Featuring goals, gossip, stats and skills and all you need to know about the nation's favourite sport.