‘A volcano that exploded’: the ’95 Ajax side that changed European football

Exactly 25 years on, Patrick Kluivert, Ronald de Boer and more recall Ajax’s famous Champions League triumph over Milan

Patrick Kluivert has, with the precision that accompanies an Ajax upbringing, just offered a photo-realistic description of the goal that changed European football. Twenty-five years have passed but no detail is spared: the gap into which he invited Frank Rijkaard’s pass; the ricochet that set him teetering as Zvonimir Boban slid in; the instinctive adjustment and extension of a toe that sent the ball rolling beyond Sebastiano Rossi. He knows it by heart but the feelings that came out eight minutes later can be explained more simply. “It was crazy, what happened after the final whistle,” he says. “Everybody was just out of their brains.”

It is, appropriately, a regression to teenage wonder. Kluivert did not know where to run as the bodies flew across the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna and nothing would be the same. Ajax’s victory over Milan in the 1995 Champions League final, earned by that single prod from the 18-year-old substitute, did not have heralded an era of domination from the Dutch side but its ramifications went further.

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