Benefits of Event-Based Sports Tourism

Hosting the world’s major sporting events come with a large price tag attached. Some countries are willing to expend millions of pounds each year to hold a tennis or golf Grand Slam or Grand Prix race, while others pump billions into the hosting of an Olympics or World Cup.

Cities rely on some of that money being recuperated when people from all across the region and world descend on a city, first to watch the sporting event, but with spare time allowing them to explore what a city has to offer.

For that reason the sport tourism industry has an estimated value of £610 billion according to a study by Eurosport.

The competitive (and expensive) exercise of bidding for these major events begins the thinking process for fans who start dreaming of a holiday destination based on sport.

The Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Cups of any sport are major examples of events where fans go into ballots for their preferred matches and events, long before they’ve left their house.

But before any fans have booked their tickets, hotels are already filling up with athletes, coaches and families of players An estimated 10,000 athletes alone need to be housed during the summer Olympics, but this is one of the few events where a Village is built specifically for them.

Aside from the sporting event, the allure of a particular stadium can be enough for some. Cricket fans travel from far and wide for the chance to watch a Test match at Lord’s , while others will travel the same route only to divert at the last moment and head down the road to Old Trafford.

This is in addition to the many who are content to not even see an event, but just to walk around a stadium and bask in the glory of an empty ground steeped in sporting history. Stadiums like Camp Nou receive around 32 million tourists a year, including those attending matches.

But big events put the city on the global stage sparking future tourism occurring long past the events finish date. During each major event images of the country are beamed around the world. This means even the casual sports observer might be drawn to a country–as one is to the French countryside while watching the Tour De France. In addition sporting lovers that have attended are likely to return with glowing reports of where they’ve visited.

Paris is in the ideal position to benefit from tourism when it hosts the 2024 Olympics. As a city used to hosting major sporting events, much of the infrastructure is in place like the Stade De France built for the 1988 World Cup. With less expenditure, money spent from sport tourists is more likely to go directly into the local economy.

Fond memories alongside the ability to say ‘I was there’ during the world’s greatest sporting events will continue to be a driver as the event tourism industry builds up again.

But it’s not just the Olympics that draw spectators from around the globe. Tourism based on sport participation continues to grow and just as many people are looking forward to travelling with their team or school again.

Events like the popular World School Games Event Series bring more than 200 schools and their supporters together across the year at tournaments in the UAE, UK and Spain.

Again these events make a beneficial impact on the economy as many participants are making a trip to a new country and ready to explore beyond their hotel and visit the attractions on offer.

When stadium capacity is increased for major events, this paves the way for young athletes to return to large-scale competition and have their family and school mates cheering them on.

Travel Habits Post Covid-19

There is no doubt that the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit during the Covid-19 crisis. With travel restrictions implemented by governments across the globe, the world we have grown to know – with frequent and increasingly affordable inter-continental air travel – has suddenly become far more isolated.

Airlines and travel companies have been hitting the headlines since the outbreak began in March, with travellers who had experienced cancellations and curtailments seeking their rights to refunds and rearrangements, while travellers with plans later in the year were seeking clarification around their bookings.

With almost an entire summer season passing us by, with uncertainty around the safety of travel and quarantine measures changing by the day, travel companies are trying to respond to the fluid situation while keeping customers informed and looking to plan in some way for 2021.

On the whole there is very likely to be a reluctance by some holidaymakers to travel abroad as freely as many will have done in the past. With this in mind, domestic travel and ‘staycations’ are likely to be the default option for many looking to get away from home without the added risk of their trip being cut short or quarantine restrictions being put in place when they return.

Many Americans are regularly tourists in their own country, with a vast and varying array of city and beach destinations in the U.S. it is easy to understand why so many opt to stay within their own borders – could we see a rise in this sort of tourism in Europe? If the early evidence of travellers taking city breaks or flocking to the coasts of their home countries over the last few week and months is anything to go by then it could well be the case.

If this trend is to continue in to 2021 travel companies will be forced to readjust their services accordingly. This will be easier to do for flexible businesses with a strong foundation within the travel industry, it will be less easy for airlines and operators who depend heavily on overseas travel.

With hotel operators and coach companies severely affected during the lockdown, with non-essential travel advised against and many hotels and AirBnB operators hibernating their entire operations for many months, they could be lifted by a post-lockdown bounce with travellers opting to explore their home country in ways that may never have crossed their minds previously.

With the scale of the pandemic meaning almost every industry and walk of life has been affected in some way since the outbreak earlier this year, many travellers have been more understanding than they may normally have been on the back of cancelled or altered travel plans. It is important that businesses within the industry don’t abuse this good will by taking any longer than they absolutely need to in dealing with any cancellations.

As we look ahead to 2021, it is important to be cautiously optimistic about the prospects of travel in the next 12-18 months. With many travellers prevented from making the most of their holidays this year, there is likely to be an appetite for travel in some shape or form when it is safe and reliable again – it is imperative that travel operators are willing and able to offer suitable destinations and services when normality returns.

The ‘New Normal’ for School Sport

After the longest summer holidays ever, schools are gradually returning to some form of the ‘new normal’ across the world on the back of an incredibly turbulent six months for students, parents and teachers.

The phased return to school is differing from country to country as the holidays come to an end, but what is for sure throughout the globe is that schools and teachers are going to have to adapt the way they deliver classes – none more so than in physical education.

From changing rooms to playing cricket, there are many aspects of normal PE life which are going to be different when students return to the playing fields and gym halls of schools in the UK, Europe and beyond.

One thing that unites everyone in the education sector is the hope of returning to as close to normality as possible in a safe manner in this new Covid era. What this will look like exactly over the next few months is not yet certain, but all anyone can do is follow the guidance given to them to ensure a smooth transition back to school sport.

In the Middle East schools have been getting creative to allow their school fixtures to continue remotely, with ‘Virtual Fixtures’ being scheduled and run via the popular online video conferencing platform Zoom while students were unable to attend matches in person.

Lots of physical activities have been carried out, with fitness and endurance tests recorded by students and compared to their peers online in order to keep youngsters active whilst at home.

In Scotland, Active Schools have compiled a list of ‘At Home’ challenges for young people to take part in to keep them physically active whilst not a school. Outside the box thinking is likely to become very important for teachers and parents/guardians in order to ensure young people are exercising at home and in school while limitations remain in place.

The return of professional sport has given fans everywhere a much-needed boost after a period in lockdown with only re-runs of old events and Sky Sports ‘Premier League Years’ on repeat to satisfy demand for live action.

Germany’s Bundesliga was the first of Europe’s mainstream leagues to return on the football pitch, while cricket, darts, tennis and snooker have all returned behind closed doors in the weeks and months which followed.

County cricket and the World Championship Snooker final have seen the return of limited fans in recent weeks, while some youth sports clubs have been given the green light to return to training sessions – all of which encourages a feeling of cautious optimism that we are moving towards some form of normality.

As schools begin to return this week teachers will be asked to adapt to the ‘new normal’, with the chance that more individual sports such as fitness, athletics and racquet sports are favoured over traditional team games in order to allow students to maintain distance and limit contact between classmates.

There is a real importance in following the protocols put in place by government, local councils and governing bodies in sport to ensure the progress being made towards normality is not stopped in its tracks – the last thing anyone wants is to return to widespread lockdown.

With each passing day we are gradually moving closer to a return to normality, and with sport’s many health and wellbeing benefits it is in the interests of us all that we get back to kicking, running, jumping and throwing when it is safe to do so.

Everyone at Twedex would like to wish teachers and students the best of luck as they return to school over the coming weeks in these unprecedented times.

Champions League Preview: Wednesday 19th February


Atalanta vs Valencia

Atalanta host Valencia this evening in what looks set to be a very interesting draw. It is a match which both teams are likely to be happy with as they have avoided the competition’s bigger names, meaning they find themselves in a good position for qualifying for the next round which will provide the opportunity to test themselves against Europe’s elite.

Atalanta and Valencia are very evenly matched, though it could be argued the Spanish team is slightly higher in terms of quality with players such as Dani Parejo, Cheryshev, Guedes and Gameiro.

As with all knockout ties, the first leg will be very important for both teams, with Valencia hoping to score an all-important an away goal to give them some breathing space ahead of the return leg at the Mestalla.

Atalanta arrive at the match in good form, having not lost in the last five games; whilst Valencia have lost two and drawn one of their last three domestic matches. With a huge chance for both teams to progress to the quarter-finals, it’s a much which may encourage substance before style but one which is set to be an interesting contest.


Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig

Tonight’s match-up between Tottenham Hotspur and RB Leipzig is the first ever meeting between the two teams. The game comes at a time when Spurs have been playing some good football under Jose Mourinho, with a string of seven games without defeat, including two draws and five wins.

A recent 2-0 win over English giants Manchester City will give the north Londoners an important boost of morale and confidence going into the Champions League.

Mourinho’s squad will not be able to count on Moussa Sissoko or Harry Kane for the tie, with both players ruled out through injury.

The weekend’s Premier League action saw Spurs’ South Korean striker, Heung-Min Son, suffer an injury which means he will be out of the match and perhaps the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery after fracturing his arm against Aston Villa.

With only one win in their last five matches, RB Leipzig’s form going into the match is not as they would have liked and with no wins in their last four away matches in the league and cup competitions a win tonight would be seen as somewhat of an upset. Despite their poor recent form RB Leipzig is still in the hunt for the Bundesliga title alongside Bayern Munich.

Timo Werner´s form this season cannot be forgotten about, with 20 goals and six assists in the Bundesliga, as well as three goals in the Champions League.

With so much at stake at this point in the season the match is set to be full of pace and hopefully goals at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.

Champions League Preview: Tuesday 18th February


Liverpool vs Atlético Madrid

Liverpool host La Liga giants Atlético Madrid at Anfield this evening in the first leg of their Last 16 tie, with the Premier League champions elect looking to continue the defence of their Champions League crown.

The main feature of this meeting is the different situations in which both teams arrive. Liverpool lead Manchester City by 25 points in the Premier League and their league nightmare almost 30-years seems to be coming to an end.

Atlético Madrid on the other hand are fourth in La Liga and they are looking to secure their place in the Champions League for the 2020/21 season with a strong finish to their domestic season.

In a huge blow for the Spanish side, important players such as Joao Felix, Trippier, Morata, and Gimenez are injured and unavailable to play tonight. Despite this, it must be taken into account that the Wanda Metropolitano is a difficult place to play, with Simeone’s teams always demonstrating confidence and a style of play which is difficult to break down.

In their group matches at the Wanda Metropolitano Atleti achieved 7 points out of a possible 9, with a draw against Juventus the only occasion where they dropped points. After being eliminated from the Copa del Rey, Atlético Madrid now find themselves at a turning point of their season.

The team is now focusing on the only two fronts it has available: finish in Champions League qualification positions at the end of the season and lifting the Champions League trophy for the very first time in their history.

Atlético’s recent record against Liverpool includes two wins, a draw and a loss in the last four games between the two teams. This is the game with perhaps more friction and tension of this week’s Champions League knockout stages. Amazing players on each side with great ambition will make this a very interesting and enjoyable match to watch.


Borussia Dortmund vs PSG

Two European giants go head to head at Signal Iduna Park this evening, but this match is mainly characterized by the fact that neither of these teams have done particularly well in the European elite tournament in the last few years.

During the past few seasons, both sides’ European dreams have been drowned by unexpected disappointments. As a matter of fact, the French side has lost in the Last 16 in each of the last three seasons, whilst Dortmund was also beaten at this stage during the 2018/19 season against Pochettino´s Tottenham Hotspur and have not reached the quarter-finals since the 2016/2017 season.

The game promises to be really intense, as Dortmund’s talented youngsters such as Sancho, Haaland, Hakimi, and Brandt have proven to be very efficient in the final third of the pitch – Dortmund have scored 18 goals in their last 4 Bundesliga matches.

Nonetheless, PSG has the best defensive record in this season´s Champions League, having conceded only twice, both goals against Real Madrid.

The trending Norwegian star, Erling Haaland, who has scored 9 goals in his 6 first matches with Dortmund, is one of the most important weapons in the German side for the match and has already proven to have the necessary skills to play in the Champions League with 8 goals in this season’s competition.

Thomas Tuchel will see some familiar faces as he plays against his former club in one of the most amazing football atmospheres in European football at Signal Iduna Park, in a match that promises good football, lots of pace and vivid support from both sides fans.

Premier League Team of the Decade

If you’ve been keeping a keen eye over on our Trans World Soccer social media channels, you’ll notice we’ve been selecting our Premier League ‘Team of the Decade’ recently.

If you’ve not seen it, take a look at our team in full below – we’ve gone for an attack-minded 4-3-3.

Petr Cech (Chelsea & Arsenal)

The former Chelsea & Arsenal goalkeeper holds a number of records, including the most clean sheets in Premier League history. A Champions League winner with Chelsea in 2012, Cech tops the tree when it comes to goalkeepers this decade!


Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City & West Ham)

The Argentinian joined Manchester City on the eve of their financial revolution and his exceptional performances have helped City to many domestic trophies in the last ten years. At 34 years old he is still hanging in there…


John Terry (Chelsea)

Known for his world class reading of the game and rock solid performances in defence, Terry was a mainstay at the heart of the Chelsea defence in many trophy filled seasons, making him one of the league’s all time greats.


Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

The towering Belgian is one of the best defenders in the Premier League era and one of City’s greatest ever. The captain led his team to their first league title since 1968, winning three more before leaving in 2019.


Patrice Evra (Manchester United & West Ham)

Rounding off the back four is Patrice Evra. A fantastic servant to Manchester United during a very successful period for the club, the left back had quality in abundance in both attack and defence – making him one of the finest defenders to play this decade.


N’Golo Kante (Leicester City & Chelsea)

First up in our midfield three is N’Golo Kante. Renowned for his tireless work in central midfield, Kante was a major contributor to Leicester City’s miraculous title win in 2016, earning himself a move to Chelsea where he is the heartbeat of their team!


Frank Lampard (Chelsea & Manchester City)

Lampard was one of the finest footballers of his generation known for his late surging runs into the box. Lampard captained Chelsea to the Champions League in 2012 and had a major influence in multiple domestic successes.


David Silva (Manchester City)

Completing our three-man midfield is Manchester City’s Spanish magician, David Silva. Central to everything good that City have achieved in the last ten years, Silva’s ability on the ball means he glides around the pitch creating chances and scoring goals!


Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Outstanding with both feet, Eden Hazard’s ability has gathered praise from all over the football world. A key man for Chelsea for many years, his move to Madrid has left big shoes to fill!


Wayne Rooney (Manchester United & Everton)

Playing for Manchester United and Everton during the 2010s, scoring over 100 Premier League goals, Rooney is a natural goalscorer who has been vital to his former clubs with some memorable strikes along the way!


Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

What else needs to be said other than AGUEROOOOO? Scorer of the decade’s most memorable Premier League goal when Manchester City lifted the title in 2012, the Argentinian striker has netted 173 times in the league since his arrival in England in 2011!

Kits of the Decade

With the decade nearing its end, we take a look at some of the best football kits from 2010 to 2019. Take a look at the five kits which made our cut…

FC Barcelona Home Kit 2010/11

One of the most recognisable kits from the past decade, Pep Guardiola’s men sported the classic blue and maroon stripes on their way to lifting both the La Liga and Champions League titles, with many branding the class of 2010/11 the greatest football side ever.


AS Roma Away Kit 2019/20

AS Roma’s away top for the 2019/20 season is the latest of a string of impressive kit designs for the Italian giants. Suppliers Nike are said to have taken inspiration from Jupiter, the Roman God of the Sky to produce the stylish clean white design with contrasting red lightning bolt.


Bayern Munich Home Kit 2014/15

For the 2014/15 campaign, Bayern Munich reverted from their classic all red kit with a retro throwback design. The red and blue stripes – reminiscent of famous kits worn during the 90’s, combined with the white edged finish ensured a sharp finish for the German champions.


Manchester United Home Kit 2012/13

The 2012/13 season saw footballing great Sir Alex Ferguson bow out after 26 years in charge at Old Trafford after securing the clubs record 20th League title. That year, sponsors Nike put a unique twist to the classic red devils look with a two-tone red chequered design – a kit as memorable as the season that unravelled.


Nigeria World Cup 2018

The Nigeria World Cup kit for the 2018 tournament in Russia broke the record for pre-ordered jerseys with three million people queuing to grab a piece of it, long before the first ball was kicked at the Mundial. With its unique retro features including a lime green and white zigzag pattern, the Super Eagles kit was the most talked about outfit at the global event.

Alternative Premier League Preview 2019/20

With the 2019/20 Premier League season set to kick off this evening when Liverpool take on new boys Norwich City at Anfield, we preview the new campaign with a difference…

Most Turbulent Summer

Newcastle United

With rumours of Rafa Benitez’s departure circling at St James Park for months this year, the time finally came during the summer when it was revealed that the Spaniard had turned down the option of a new contract, instead heading to the Chinese Superleague to take charge of Dalian Yifang.

Benitez’s departure sparked another round of fan protests against owner Mike Ashley, which has created a difficult environment for new manager Steve Bruce to walk into. Bruce’s appointment came when the Newcastle first team squad were in China for the Premier League Asia Trophy, with the Englishman flown out to meet up with his new club well into their pre-season preparations.

Players came and went throughout the summer with no one quite sure who was in charge of making the signings. £40 million striker Joelinton is the biggest name to arrive on Tyneside during the transfer window, but was he a Steve Bruce signing? Probably not, with the scouting team and people above Bruce making the decision before his arrival.

Injury prone Andy Carroll arrived at St James Park on deadline day, in a move which could be a hit or a miss in terms of the amount he will contribute to the team.

 

Best Business

David Luiz

The maverick Brazilian was a centre piece of Chelsea’s pre-season tour to Japan and has played over 160 games for the Stamford Bridge club over two spells. A £50 million signing for French giants Paris St Germain five years ago, David Luiz’s £8m move to Arsenal on deadline day seems to be the best business of the summer transfer window.

At a time when Arsenal were crying out for a new centre half, after club captain Laurent Koscielny sealed a move to French side Bordeaux, David Luiz will slot right into the heart of the Gunners defence. Key players from rival clubs do not come around very often, let alone for £8m in the age of big money signings.

Luiz is a player who will fit in well to the ball playing style of football fans have come to expect at the Emirates. With Celtic’s Kieran Tierney also recruited on the final day of the transfer window, Arsenal fans can expect to see a new look back four over the course of the season.

 

Worst Value for Money

Harry Maguire

Although there is no denying Harry Maguire’s ability as a centre half, with solid performances at club and international level over the last few seasons – it is quite astonishing that he has garnered a move to Manchester United for £80 million pounds – eighty million pounds.

Even in the times of astronomical transfer fees, £80 million is a sum which you’d expect to see paid for a match-winning centre forward or a play making midfielder, at very least a top-class player who has solid experience in the Champions League.

In Harry Maguire Manchester United have signed a strong, solid defender who reads the game well, but who will not make a remarkable difference to the United starting XI on the whole. United’s goals against record in the 2018/19 Premier League read 54 goals last season, more goals than Wolves, Everton, Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

Defence was clearly an area United needed to strengthen – but at £80 million for a centre half, it must be said that the money may have been used more wisely elsewhere. Toby Alderweireld, a player who has a wealth of Champions League experience and is only four years older than Maguire, reportedly has a buy-out clause of £25m – and that says it all.

Leicester City will be laughing all the way to the bank having made a £68m profit on a player they signed for £12m from Hull City in June 2017.

 

First Manager Sacked

Javi Gracia – Watford

With expectations at all Premier League clubs increasing every year and clubs around Watford spending heavily in a bid to secure domestic success, the pressure could be on for Javi Gracia in his first full season in charge of the north-west London side.

Summer signings Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr will be looking to make an instant impact as the league season kicks off tomorrow at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. With Arsenal, a rejuvenated Everton and reigning champions Manchester City to face in the first six fixtures, Gracia will be looking to pick up as many points as possible in matches against Newcastle and West Ham United.

With fans and owners expecting another solid season at Vicarage Road after last year’s run to the FA Cup final, Gracia will be hoping for a quick start to league proceedings in 2019/20 – otherwise the pressure could be on.

 

Bottom at Christmas

Sheffield United

Newly promoted sides are always tipped to struggle in the Premier League and Sheffield United could be in for a tough season back in the top flight.

Fellow promotion winners Aston Villa have spent big money during the summer window, with nine signings made in the hope that it will boost their survival chances, while Championship winners Norwich should build on a very successful season in 2018/19 with a core squad who know each other well.

Chris Wilder’s side will be looking to prove the doubters wrong and have new signings Phil Jagielka and Oli McBurnie to come into the team which will start the Blades’ first season in the Premier League since Neil Warnock’s side in 2006/07.

Premier League Season Review

As the latest football season comes to a close, the English Premier League has once again proved itself as the superior domestic league across the world.

A nail-biting title race between Manchester City and Liverpool, full of twists and excitement stretched all the way to the final day of the season, with fans of all clubs hooked.

There were also fantastic European campaigns for Liverpool and Spurs, who meet in Madrid for the Champions League Final and Chelsea and Arsenal, who will travel to Baku to battle for the Europa League. Today we will look back on another emphatic season and see who were the standout players, teams and managers of 2018/19.

 

Manager of the Season:

Josep Guardiola – Manchester City

Following last season’s record 100 points haul for the season, Guardiola became the first manager in Premier League history to successfully retain the title. Playing an elegant, attacking style of football, similar to that of Pep’s former Barcelona side, City won 32 of their 38 league games, scoring 95 goals. This also included an impressive 14 game consecutive winning run to finish the season and beat Liverpool to the prize by just a single point.

 

Player of the Season:

Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk has had a major impact on Liverpool since joining in 2017/18, with the Dutch defender becoming a clear fans favourite at Anfield this season. Powerful in the air, strong in the tackle and comfortable in possession, the commanding centre-half helped Liverpool to their highest ever Premier League points total, keeping 20 clean sheets in the process. Van Dijk has also contributed with some important goals at the other end for the Red’s and is now regarded by many as the top defender in world football. A worthy winner.

 

Surprise Package:

Wolves – 7th Place

One of the biggest surprises of the season was the success of Wolves. Promoted from the Championship the previous season, Wolves could yet be playing in Europe next season following a 7th place finish should Manchester City defeat Watford in the FA Cup Final. With their resilient defending and fast counter attacking approach, Manager Nuno Espirato Santo has gained plenty of plaudits for his side’s performances, with impressive defeats of Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal at Molineux this season. The strike partnership between Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota in particular has been key to the sides success with 13 and 9 goals respectively.

 

Under Performers of the Season:

Manchester United – 6th Place

Yet another disappointing campaign at Old Trafford. Arguably the world’s biggest club, United have missed out on Champions League football for next season with many question marks now clouding over the futures of a number of players. Despite spending millions of the playing squad, 3-time Premier League champion Jose Mourinho was unable to meet expectations and was shown the door. His replacement, former United goal scorer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived, and despite an initial up-turn in form, it appears as though the wheels may have come off for Ole, with his long-term future now also looking uncertain. A big summer rebuild required.

 

Signing of the Season:

Salomon Rondon – Newcastle United

Venezuelan frontman Salomon Rondon has enjoyed a successful season for Newcastle since joining on a year-long loan from relegated West Brom last summer. Identified by manager Rafa Benitez as the man to lead the line for the magpies, Rondon has been involved in 47% of United’s goals this season, having contributed 8 assists in addition to his 10 top-flight strikes. With West Brom failing to achieve promotion back to the Premier League, Rondon’s contract contains a £16.5 million release clause, however it remains to be seen whether he returns to St James’ Park next season.

AFC Ajax Academy Success Stories

After a 4-1 win over Real Madrid in this year’s UEFA Champions League, Ajax have earned themselves a quarter final match up against Italian giants Juventus. They have one of the most famous youth academies in world football, a set up which has been copied and envied by clubs all over the globe.

We have taken a look at some of the academy’s best success stories over the years.


Christian Eriksen

Eriksen began his youth career at Ajax in 2008 and made his breakthrough to the first team in a 1-1 draw against NAC Breda. Eriksen went on to play 113 times for Ajax, also earning an international call up for Denmark whilst in the Eredivisie.

Eriksen moved to Tottenham for a fee of £11 million in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most recognisable figures in the English Premier League. The Dane, following in the footsteps of compatriots Michael and Brian Laudrup, became an icon at Ajax in an era when they were losing some of their status in European terms. Eriksen’s subtle football and vision were a reminder of the club’s fine creators of the past. Inevitably, his talent outgrew the confines of the Netherlands, but he patiently waited for what he felt was the right stage of his maturity to move to Tottenham Hotspur.

Wesley Sneijder

Sneijder began his career at Ajax, joining the youth academy in 1991 as a seven-year-old, following the footsteps of his brother. He made his first professional appearance in February 2003 in a 6-0 win against Willem II. After leaving the Amsterdam giants, Sneijder went on to play for clubs such as Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Galatasaray. Classed by many as a brilliant, diminutive playmaker, Sneijder inherited the fabled number 10 jersey at Ajax and made 126 appearances for the club.

Real Madrid paid an eye-catching €27 million for Sneijder in 2007 and he won the Primera Liga with Madrid. Upon joining Inter Milan, the midfielder won a Serie A title and the 2010 Champions League whilst guiding for the Netherlands, for whom he holds the record for appearances, to the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

Rafael van der Vaart

Midfielder Van der Vaart spent seven years at the Ajax youth academy, between 1993 and 2000. He went on to make 117 appearances and score 52 goals in a five year stretch with the 1st team. Van der Vaart has made over 400 professional football appearances scoring 135 goals, for clubs such as Real Madrid, Tottenham, Hamburg and Real Betis. Van der Vaart represented his country in three World Cups and three European Championships.

Ryan Babel

Ryan Babel began his career at Ajax in 1998, staying with the youth squad for six years until 2004. Whilst he was still 17, Babel made his first team debut in a 4-0-win vs. ADO Den Haag. He scored his first senior goal against De Graafschap in a 5-0 win and went on to make 54 appearances for the Dutch national team. Since leaving AFC Ajax, Babel has appeared for Liverpool, Hoffenheim, Besiktas and Fulham.

 


Daley Blind

Following on from his father, Danny, Daley Blind joined the Ajax Youth Academy in 1998. Consistently performing with the A-juniors in the 2006-07 season, Blind earned his place in the first team in the 2008-09 season, signing his first professional contract aged 17. Blind’s debut arrived later that season, in December 2008, in an away match vs. FC Volendam. Blind went on to play his trade for Manchester United before returning to his boyhood club in 2018. To date Blind has made 60 appearance for the Netherlands, scoring two international goals.

 

Edgar Davids

Davids made his senior debut in 1991. Recognized by Pelé as one of the world’s 100 greatest living footballers, Edgar Davids, a Suriname native, is one of the most complete midfielders to have played the game in the last twenty-five years. Davids spent six years in the youth set up at AFC Ajax before spending five successful years in the first-team.  Moves to AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and a return to Ajax were all part of his impressive football CV.

 

Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp joined Ajax Academy at the age of 11. Working his way through the squads, Bergkamp was handed his debut by another academy legend, Johan Cruyff, in a 2-0 victory against Roda JC. Winning the league title, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Cup on one occasion. Bergkamp moved to Inter Milan in 1993 and won the UEFA Cup once in his 2 years at the club. Bergkamp then moved to Arsenal in 1995 and became a club legend. Winning the Premier League on 3 occasions, being part of the team that went unbeaten in a season. Bergkamp came runner-up in the 1993 Ballon d’Or and 3rd place in 1992. He was also named in the Fifa 100, which is a list created by Pele of the 100 greatest living players.

 

Fancy following in the footsteps of Ajax’s superstars of past and present? Trans World Educational Experiences offer bespoke football tour experiences to some of Europe’s premier football destinations, including our Amsterdam Football Development Tours. For more information, visit our enquiry form here and allow us to prepare a sample itinerary for you.