Twenty-five years ago, Ajax clinched their last Champions League title. Nick van Ruiven looks back at the successful campaign of Louis van Gaal’s side.

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May 24th, 1995 will forever live on in Ajax fan’s hearts as the day the club beat AC Milan to clinch their fourth European Cup and their first since the inception of the Champions League.

Ajax were on the rise again in the late 1980’s and early 90’s as they clinched the 1987 Cup Winners Cup and 1992 UEFA Cup. Domestically the club had won the Eredivisie in 1990 and 1994 during that same period, as well as the 1989 Dutch Cup.

Under the guidance of head coach Louis van Gaal a youthful crop of players, including the likes of the De Boer twins, Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, Marc Overmars and Edgar Davids, complemented by experienced players Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard entered the Champions League competition with hopes of making it to the latter stages.

Ajax were drawn into a group with holders AC Milan, Austrian outfit Casino Salzburg (Red Bull Salzburg today) and AEK Athens

Match day one saw the Dutch side play host to the Italians at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. The home team proved to be a strong match for the 1994 winners and went on to beat them 2-0, with Ronald de Boer and Jari Litmanen getting on the scoresheet after the break.

For the second match in group D Ajax travelled to Athens to meet AEK, who had drawn 0-0 in their opening fixture with Salzburg. The Greek side opened the scoring at the half hour mark, but their lead was short lived as Litmanen drew level just minutes later. Nearly halfway into the second half Patrick Kluivert gave Ajax all three points with his first Champions League ever.

On the 19th of October, 1994, Ajax were away again in group D, now facing Casino Salzburg. Neither side managed to find the net, meaning the game ended in a goalless draw.

A fortnight later the two sides met again, at the Olympic Stadium this time. Once again the spoils were shared between the Dutch and Austrian sides.
For the second time in three games Ajax fell behind, but once again Litmanen came to the rescue with a late equaliser.

Three weeks later Ajax travelled to Triest, Italy, to play AC Milan for the second time. Milan were punished for an incident in their previous home game against Salzburg and therefore could not play at their usual home at San Siro. The visitors were off to a flying start as Litmanen scored yet another goal. Shortly past the halfway point the second half experienced defender Franco Baresi contributed to his sideโ€™s downfall with an own goal.

With two wins over the holders the believe that Ajax could be on to something bigger than potentially making the latter stages began to grow.
In the final group match of the 94/95 campaign Ajax beat AEK 2-0, courtesy of a Tarik Oulida brace, confirming top spot in group D.

For the quarter-final Ajax were drawn against Croatian side Hajduk Split. The first leg in Croatia ended in a goalless draw. A fortnight later Ajax were stronger than the Prva HNL champions, beating them 3-0 with Kanu and Frank de Boer (2) getting their names on the score sheet.

Ajax, AC Milan, Bayern and PSG reached the semi-finals of the competition. The draw provided a clash between the Dutch and German champions. The first meeting between the two took place at the Munich Olympic Stadium, ending in yet another goalless draw.

The goalless draw in Munich meant that Ajax knew that any win at the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium would see them progress to the final. April 18th, 1995 the two sides met in Amsterdam to decide their fates. The game would turn into a proper classic of its own.

Ajax took the lead after twelve minutes as Litmanen netted his fifth of the competition. Roughly ten minutes before the break the Germans draw level, courtesy of a Marcel Witeczek goal.

Five minutes after that, Ajax once again took the lead as Finidi George scored an absolutely peach of a goal, giving the Bayern keeper Scheuer no chance. Also before the break Ajax managed to get a third, thanks to Ronald de Boer.

Shortly after the break Ajax even scored a fourth, netted by Litmanen (6th of the campaign). With less than a half left to play, surely Ajax were safe to book their tickets to Vienna?

As the game progressed nor Ajax or Bayern managed to get another goal, until Danny Blind handled the ball on the goal line resulting in a penalty kick and a booking. The Ajax skipper rode his luck there as a red cared would have meant he would have missed out on another European final.

Blind missed the 1988 Cup Winners Cup final v KV Mechelen, which Ajax went on to lose. In an Ajax TV interview years later Blind admitted he did indeed ride his luck and thanked the referee after the game for not sending him off.

The penalty kick was converted by Mehmet Scholl, meaning Bayern needed two more goals to progress to the final at the expense of Ajax. With two minutes left to play Marc Overmars made sure Ajax could book their trip to the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna to play AC Milan for the third time in a season.

Ajax v Milan part three would turn out to be a proper final. Nervy, on the edge, chances at either end. As expected Milan had the edge in the first half, but after the interval the tables turned and Ajax came out on top.

Still they had to wait until five minutes from time to finally beat the Milan goalie. Second half sub Kluivert (replacing Litmanen) rounded off a great build-up involving half the team. Danny Blind nearly made it two shortly after and with a bit more precision Milan could have forced the game into extra time as well.

None of that happened, however, meaning Ajax finally clinched their fourth European Cup! In the aftermath of the game a huge party erupted in Amsterdam. 200,000 fans gathered at the Museum Square to celebrate with the team the next day.

Ajax would then almost make it two in a row but a year later they went down on penalties to Juventus, before the team was broken up by the Bosman ruling. The 1994-95 campaign will always be looked back on as one of the most successful in Ajax history.

Nick Van Ruiven (37 Posts)