Hol­land’s De Klassieker is a tale of two con­trast­ing cities

World Soccer - - Rivals -

While Am­s­ter­dam dreams, Rot­ter­dam works” is a phrase of­ten used to de­scribe the dif­fer­ing mind­set of Hol­land’s two big­gest cities – and that sen­ti­ment could equally be ap­plied to their re­spec­tive foot­ball teams.

Play­ing what was to be­come known as “To­tal Foot­ball”, coach Ri­nus Michels’ Ajax dom­i­nated Euro­pean foot­ball in the early 1970s with a style and flair that the club’s sup­port­ers saw as a re­flec­tion of Am­s­ter­dam’s cul­tural so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

In the work­ing-class port of Rot­ter­dam, how­ever, such brash be­hav­iour is deemed ar­ro­gant and aloof, and Feyeno­ord fans pride them­selves on their club and their city hav­ing a strong work ethic.

In 1970 Feyeno­ord be­came the first Dutch side to win the Euro­pean Cup, but the great­est mo­ment in their his­tory would soon be brushed aside as Ajax lifted the Cham­pi­ons Cup for the next three con­sec­u­tive sea­sons.

The chief ar­chi­tect of those tri­umphs was Hol­land’s great­est player of all time, Jo­han Cruyff. Yet a decade later he took a de­ci­sion that would shock the whole of Dutch foot­ball.

Hav­ing re­turned to Am­s­ter­dam to­wards the end of his il­lus­tri­ous play­ing ca­reer, Cruyff was fu­ri­ous when Ajax re­fused to of­fer him a new con­tract in the sum­mer of 1983. De­ter­mined to play on, his an­gry re­sponse was to storm off and sign for Feyeno­ord – and then go on to lead the club to a league and cup dou­ble at the age of 37.

Re­la­tions be­tween the two clubs have de­te­ri­o­rated steadily over the years and the ill-feel­ing has, un­for­tu­nately, of­ten led to hor­rific scenes of vi­o­lence, with the worst case be­ing in 1997 when an Ajax fan was killed in clashes be­tween ri­val sup­port­ers.

Clash...Feyeno­ord’s Jean-Paul Boetius (cen­tre) and Re­nato Tapia bat­tle with Joel Velt­man of Ajax

Shock...Jo­han Cruyff (right) play­ing for Feyeno­ord

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