Insight

On the road with Ajax

Ajax fans Ole Woltmeijer and Jelmer van Leussen enjoyed the full Champions League experience after winning tickets to see their team in Lille

INTERVIEW Ian Holyman | PHOTOGRAPHY Sjoerd Tullenaar

“I replied to the Instagram post without thinking anything of it; it was a nice surprise when I found out I’d won,” says 19-year-old Ajax fan Ole Woltmeijer (above left), whose trip has included the opportunity to experience the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan. “In the morning I went to my university — I’m a marketing, business and economics student in Zwolle — to print the tickets out at 8am, and then took four hours to drive down here. I don’t actually have a car so I arranged for my grandmother to lend me hers.

“I’ve always been an Ajax fan. I was born on the other side of the country from Amsterdam but my dad was an Ajax fan and he ‘educated’ me. Basically he told me, ‘You’re going to be an Ajax fan.’ I’ve seen videos of games from our golden era. It’s my dad’s fault. Hakim Ziyech is my favourite player now. He’s so creative. I love that he takes risks on the ball.

Jelmer van Leussen and Ole Woltmeijer fly the Ajax flag in Lille
History
Penalty Pedigree

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“I replied to the Instagram post without thinking anything of it; it was a nice surprise when I found out I’d won,” says 19-year-old Ajax fan Ole Woltmeijer (above left), whose trip has included the opportunity to experience the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan. “In the morning I went to my university — I’m a marketing, business and economics student in Zwolle — to print the tickets out at 8am, and then took four hours to drive down here. I don’t actually have a car so I arranged for my grandmother to lend me hers.

“I’ve always been an Ajax fan. I was born on the other side of the country from Amsterdam but my dad was an Ajax fan and he ‘educated’ me. Basically he told me, ‘You’re going to be an Ajax fan.’ I’ve seen videos of games from our golden era. It’s my dad’s fault. Hakim Ziyech is my favourite player now. He’s so creative. I love that he takes risks on the ball.

Jelmer van Leussen and Ole Woltmeijer fly the Ajax flag in Lille
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“I wasn’t born when Ajax last won the Champions League in ’95, so my best memory of them in the competition comes from last season against Real Madrid. We played really well in the first game at home but lost; we played just as well away from home and won. As for the semi-finals, let’s not talk too much about that… I had tickets for the home game against Tottenham but I was really ill in bed. After the game I felt even worse!

“I’ve travelled away with Ajax before in the Netherlands, but this has been my first European trip. The match itself wasn’t that good but the result was nice. The atmosphere was great: the Lille support surprised me and you could hear the Ajax fans through the whole 90 minutes.

“If they get through the group, I think they can reach the semi-finals again. Frenkie de Jong has said he wants to wait as long as possible before playing Ajax again because they’re so good.

“It’s just sick to have got so close to the Champions League trophy. It has so much history. When you think of everyone who has held it: Messi, Ronaldo, Cruyff and, last year, Van Dijk, Mané, Salah… It was so impressive to be there alongside Florent Malouda, a guy who’s won the Champions League. Amazing. Of course I was tempted to just have a small touch of it, but I didn’t. Only those who’ve won it can.”

Ole Woltmeijer won two tickets to Lille v Ajax courtesy of Nissan on the Lille leg of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, driven by the new Nissan Juke.

History
'This trophy is beautiful'

Florent Malouda’s ever-youthful features suggest time has stood still for the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League winner, but the former Chelsea midfielder (above, second right) says it is the emotion rekindled by touring Europe with the Champions League trophy that is his elixir of youth.

“It’s like you never grow old; you react like a kid when you see it,” the ex-France international tells us. He is stood alongside club football’s most sought-after prize at LOSC Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy, memories of the Blues’ dramatic triumph in Munich still vivid more than seven years on. “When you hold it and have the right to lift the trophy, you realise you have done something big.”

With scores of starry-eyed fans young and old waiting to take a picture alongside the ex-Olympique Lyonnais man and the trophy, Malouda, now 39, hopes his feat might fuel the ambitions of future winners.

“I’m trying to be a role model to inspire people with our story, the competition’s history, to make people dream,” he says. “This trophy is beautiful – I think that every time I see it. It’s really special; it reflects emotions.”

“It Is like you never grow old; you react like a kid when you see it”

“I replied to the Instagram post without thinking anything of it; it was a nice surprise when I found out I’d won,” says 19-year-old Ajax fan Ole Woltmeijer (above left), whose trip has included the opportunity to experience the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan. “In the morning I went to my university — I’m a marketing, business and economics student in Zwolle — to print the tickets out at 8am, and then took four hours to drive down here. I don’t actually have a car so I arranged for my grandmother to lend me hers.

“I’ve always been an Ajax fan. I was born on the other side of the country from Amsterdam but my dad was an Ajax fan and he ‘educated’ me. Basically he told me, ‘You’re going to be an Ajax fan.’ I’ve seen videos of games from our golden era. It’s my dad’s fault. Hakim Ziyech is my favourite player now. He’s so creative. I love that he takes risks on the ball.

Jelmer van Leussen and Ole Woltmeijer fly the Ajax flag in Lille
History
Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.