From Johan Cruyff to Ronald Koeman - Meet the players who played for Ajax and Feyenoord
Two of the most iconic teams in Dutch football, Ajax and Feyenoord, are also involved in one of the fiercest rivalries in Europe.
A rivalry between the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, both have competed for the biggest titles in Dutch football.
Both clubs enjoyed the greatest success on a global scale in the early 1970s, when they were considered to be two of the best clubs in the world. During this time, Ajax won three European Cups, whereas Feyenoord won one European Cup and one Uefa Cup.
Games between these two teams often saw violent clashes between supporters of either club.
Despite the vociferous support from fans, some players dared to play for both teams in their careers, including the great Johan Cruyff!
Who were the rest? Let's take a look!
There are not enough words to express what Johan Cruyff did for our beautiful game.
The three-time Ballon d'Or winner was a player like nobody else and left a legacy as one of the most influential players of all time.
A product of Ajax's youth academy, Cruyff joined their senior team in 1964. He stayed at Ajax until 1973, ushering in the golden era of "Total Football" and scoring 193 goals in 245 games.
Cruyff led Ajax to eight Eredivisie titles, five KNVB Cups, three European Cups, a European Supercup and an Intercontinental Cup over his two stints at the club.
He left for Barcelona in 1973 and stayed for five years, scoring 48 goals in 143 games and winning two trophies including La Liga in his first season at the club.
Cruyff left Catalonia to move to the United States until Ajax decided to bring him back in 1981. He stayed there for two more years, scoring 14 goals in 36 games before signing for Feyenoord in 1983.
Cruyff scored 11 goals in 33 games for Feyenoord in what was his final season as a professional footballer and led them to the 1983-84 Eredivisie title and the KNVB Cup before hanging up his boots.
Feyenoord's greatest legend Wim Jansen was one of the most versatile players on the planet in his prime.
The midfielder, who could also slot into the defence, joined Feyenoord's senior team after graduating from their academy in 1965.
He stayed at Feyenoord for 15 years, making 415 appearances for them, winning the European Cup in 1970 among other trophies. Jansen joined American club Washington Diplomats in 1980.
However, Jansen returned to the Netherlands in the same year and joined Ajax, where he made 49 appearances in a two-season spell before retiring.
It is said that Cruyff considered Jansen to be one of only four men worth paying attention to when they spoke about football.
One of the most versatile players in history, Ronald Koeman played for all three top clubs in Netherlands - Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord.
He joined Ajax in 1983 from Groningen, scoring 23 goals in 94 games in his three-year stint at the club where he won an Eredivisie title and the KNVB Cup.
It was at Ajax that Koeman, who was primarily a defender, turned into a 'goalscoring defender'. It is worth knowing that he scored close to 200 goals in his career!
Moving on, PSV signed Koeman in 1986 and in his three years there, he scored 51 in 98 games, winning three Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and a European Cup.
Barcelona brought him to Camp Nou in 1989 and after six years in Spain where he won 10 trophies including the 1991-92 Champions League, he returned to the Netherlands with Feyenoord in 1995, making 61 appearances before retiring at the club.
One of Ajax's greatest strikers ever, Henk Groot joined the club in 1959 and in his four years as part of his first stint there, he scored an eye-watering 116 goals in 124 games.
In 1963, Feyenoord came calling and signed the forward. Groot played for Feyenoord for two years, scoring 34 goals in 54 games, helping them win the 1964-65 Eredivisie title and KNVB Cup.
He returned to Ajax and stayed there for another four years, scoring 46 goals in 101 games and winning three consecutive Eredivisie titles between 1965 and 1968.
After impressing with Dutch club Telstar for two years, Feyenoord signed Ruud Geels in 1966.
The attacking midfielder stayed there for four years, scoring 46 goals in 89 games. He played a major role in helping Feyenoord win the 1968-69 Eredivisie title and KNVB Cup as well as the 1969-70 European Cup.
Geels joined fellow Dutch club Go Ahead Eagles in 1970 and played for them for two seasons before moving to Belgium with Club Brugge in 1972.
He scored 28 goals in 53 games in Belgium, which was appreciated by Ajax, who signed him in 1974.
It was at Ajax that Geels achieved legendary status, possessing an unbelievable scoring record of 123 goals in 131 Eredivisie games between 1974 and 1978.
Geels won the 1976-77 Eredivisie title with Ajax, thus cementing his legacy in Dutch football. He also played for PSV for one season, later in his career.
Attacking midfielder Steven Berghuis had inconsistent spells early on in his career before joining AZ in 2012. In his three years there, he made 74 appearances, scoring 20 goals.
In 2015, Watford signed him, but he couldn't survive there beyond one season, making just nine appearances before Feyenoord came calling.
Berghuis became a global star during his time at Feyenoord, leading him to become one of the first names in the Netherlands' national team sheet too.
He scored 70 goals in 149 games for Feyenoord before joining Ajax in 2021.
Legendary goalkeeper Eddy Pieters Graafland (on the left in the image) is a legend at both Ajax and Feyenoord.
The Dutch legend joined Ajax at the age of 11 and moved through the ranks at the club's academy before making his senior team debut in 1951 at the age of 17.
He made 154 appearances for Ajax, winning one Eredivisie title before moving to Feyenoord in 1958.
Graafland made 356 appearances for Feyenoord, winning four league titles, a KNVB Cup and a European Cup, thus becoming a legend at the club.
His last professional appearance in his career was in the 1969-70 European Cup final in which he helped Feyenoord win the coveted trophy.
Theo van Duivenbode
Born in Amsterdam, Theo van Duivenbode made his senior debut for Ajax on May 3, 1964 against Sparta. The left-back made 135 appearances for Ajax before then-manager Rinus Michels deemed Van Duivenbode not up to the standards at the club following their loss in the 1969 European Cup final to Milan.
Van Duivenbode moved to rivals Feyenoord in the same year, becoming just the third player to do so at that time. Later, he scored for Feyenoord against Ajax in his first De Klassieker.
- Getty Images
Simon Tahamata impressed the coaches at Ajax's academy and was given the chance to shine in their first team.
The winger made his senior debut for the club in 1976 and went on to play there for four years, scoring 14 goals in 109 games.
Tahamata won three Eredivisie titles and a KNVB Cup in his time with Ajax.
In 1980, he joined Standard Liege, where he spent another four years, making 129 appearances and scoring 40 goals.
His performances in Belgium caught Feyenoord's attention and then signed him in 1984. Tahamata stayed for three years at Feyenoord, scoring 29 goals in 87 games.
- getty images
Nicknamed "White Socrates" after the famous Brazilian player, Arnold Scholten was signed by Ajax from Den Bosch in 1986.
The midfielder impressed in his four years in what was his first spell at Ajax, making 69 appearances, winning an Eredivisie title, the KNVB Cup and the Uefa Cup Winners' Cup.
In 1990, he moved to Feyenoord and stayed for five years, making 165 appearances and winning six trophies before returning to Ajax in 1995.
He stayed at Ajax for two years in his second spell, making 44 appearances between 1995 and 1997 and won the Eredivisie title in the 1995-96 season.
Amsterdam-born Rob Witschge spent most of his professional career at Feyenoord, but he actually started his journey at Ajax.
The midfielder played 98 games for Ajax between 1985 and 1989, playing a crucial role in helping them win the 1986-87 European Cup Winners' Cup, before joining Saint-Etienne for one season.
Feyenoord signed him in January 1991 and he helped them win three Dutch Cups, one Supercup and the 1992–93 Eredivisie.
Witschge played 160 games for Feyenoord, scoring 25 goals in his five-year spell at the club.
The rest - From Jan Everse to Anwar el-Ghazi
Left back Jan Everse played for Feyenoord between 1972 and 1977, making 46 appearances before joining Ajax, where he played 69 games until 1980.
Denmark striker Jan Sorensen arrived at Feyenoord for one season in 1985, scoring nine goals in 25 games before joining Excelsior for another season in 1986. He then joined Ajax for a brief period in 1987, making just five appearances for them.
Dutch goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer graduated from Ajax's academy before making 103 senior appearances for the club between 2005 and 2014. He joined Feyenoord and went on to make 101 appearances for them.
Dean Gorre was signed by Feyenoord in 1992. The midfielder stayed at the club for three years, making 42 appearances before joining Groningen. In 1997, Ajax signed him and he made 36 appearances for them in two years, scoring four goals.
Dutch attacking midfielder Richard Knopper was an academy graduate at Feyenoord before Ajax signed him up for their academy. He signed his senior contract with Ajax in 1997 and stayed there for six years, making 67 appearances and scoring 19 goals.
Goalkeeper Henk Timmer made a combined 415 appearances for Zwolle and AZ between 1989 and 2006. Between these years, he spent the 2001-02 season with Feyenoord and the 2002-03 season with Ajax on loan. Feyenoord signed him permanently in 2006 and he made 94 appearances for them.
Brazilian winger Leonardo arrived at Feyenoord's academy at a young age and went on to break into their senior team in 2005. In his five years there, he made 53 appearances. He joined NCA Breda in 2006 before joining Ajax in 2007, where he spent two years, playing 39 games. Leonardo spent his professional career's final year with PSV, thus completing the trinity of Dutch football by playing in all three top teams in the land.
Evander Sno graduated from Ajax's academy and was immediately signed by Feyenoord in 2005. However, he failed to make a single appearance for them before leaving in 2006 for Celtic. He returned to Ajax in 2008 and played 19 games for them.
Goalkeeper Ronald Graafland spent two years at Feyenoord at the start of his career but failed to make a single appearance for them. Excelsior signed him in 2000 followed by Vitesse in 2008. Ajax came calling in 2010, but he couldn't make the cut there before returning to Feyenoord in 2011.
Netherlands winger Anwar El-Ghazi was with the Feyenoord academy between 2006 and 2008 before joining other clubs and eventually arriving at Ajax in 2013. The former Aston Villa man joined PSV in 2022.
Kostas Lamprou played as a goalkeeper for Feyenoord, making 14 appearances between 2009 and 2015. He then joined Willem II before joining Ajax in 2017. In his two years at Ajax, he made just three appearances.
Morocco winger Oussama Idrissi arrived at Ajax as part of a loan from Sevilla in 2021. He made seven appearances for them before joining Cadiz on loan in 2022. After playing 12 games for the Spanish team, he joined Feyenoord for the 2022-23 season.
Central midfielder Rene Notten joined Ajax in 1974 and made 91 appearances for them before joining Feyenoord in 1978. He scored 22 goals in 127 games for Feyenoord.
Johnny Rep was one of the best players at Ajax in the early 1970s. The winger played for them between 1971 and 1975, scoring 41 goals in 97 games, winning back-to-back European Cups in 1971-72 and 1972-73, among other trophies. He then played for clubs like Valencia, Bastia, Saint-Etienne and Zwolle before joining Feyenoord in 1984. Rep made 43 appearances for them.
Three-time Eredivisie winner with Ajax, Keje Molenaar signed for them from Volendam in 1980 and went on to make 89 appearances. The defender loved scoring goals and found the back of the net 22 in his time at Ajax. He returned to Volendam for one season in 1984 before joining Feyenoord. Between 1985 and 1988, he made 100 appearances for Feyenoord, scoring 11 goals.
Born to a Chinese father and Dutch mother, Tscheu La Ling signed for Ajax in 1975 and went on to become one of their greatest wingers. He made 172 appearances for Ajax, scoring 54 goals. He left the club in 1982 and after a couple of stints abroad, La Ling returned back to the Netherlands in 1985, this time with Feyenoord. He spent a season there, making 18 appearances.
Martin van Geel joined Ajax from Willem II in 1979. He stayed there for two seasons, making 22 appearances and winning one Eredivisie title in his first season. He moved to Roda JC in 1981 and spent the majority of his career there before moving to Feyenoord in 1988. Van Geel spent two seasons at Feyenoord, scoring 24 goals in 50 games.
Ajax academy graduate Harvey Esajas never got a chance to play for their senior team, but Feyenoord granted him his senior debut in 1993. The defender played there for three years, making eight appearances.
Ajax signed John van Loen from Anderlecht in 1991. He spent two seasons at the club, making 37 appearances. Feyenoord made a move for the striker in 1993, where he spent another two seasons, scoring 17 goals in 54 games.
Dutch forward Peter van Vossen joined Ajax from Anderlecht in 1993. In his two years there, Van Vossen made 41 appearances, scoring six goals before joining Istanbulspor and later, Rangers. In 1998, Feyenoord came calling. He made 73 appearances in three years for the club, scoring 10 goals.
Diego Biseswar joined Ajax's academy in 1994 and stayed there until 1999. He later joined and graduated from Feyenoord's academy in 2005 and went on to make 95 appearances for their senior team, scoring 11 goals.
Feyenoord signed Evander Sno from Ajax's academy, but he failed to make a single appearance for them. In 2006, he signed for Celtic. Ajax brought him back in 2008. He left the club after a three-year stint.
Angelos Charisteas played for Ajax and Feyenoord in back-to-back seasons. The striker signed for Ajax in 2005 and scored 12 goals in 31 appearances. He left the club to join Feyenoord in 2006 and scored nine goals in 28 appearances before joining Nurnberg.
AZ Alkmaar signed Tim de Cler from Ajax in 2002. The left-back made 75 appearances for Ajax. At AZ, he established himself, playing 157 games before joining Feyenoord in 2007, where he played 87 games.
Ronald Graafland is quite a forgotten name in Feyenoord and Ajax's history. The reason is the goalkeeper made no appearances for Ajax and just one appearance for Feyenoord.
Feyenoord signed John Goosens in 2012. He made 30 appearances for them in two years, before moving to the Indian Super League club FC Pune City. The midfielder then moved to Voluntari in Romania in 2015 and Chicago Fire in the MLS in 2016.
Bilal Basacikoglu joined Ajax's youth academy but joined Heerenveen at senior level in 2013. A season later, Feyenoord signed the winger. He made 78 appearances for them.
After spending his youth academy days at Ajax, Warner Hahn joined FC Dordrecht in 2012. The goalkeeper was signed by Feyenoord in 2014, but failed to make a single appearance for them.
Netherlands midfielder Marko Vejinovic graduated from Ajax's youth academy, but did not make it to their first team. He enjoyed senior stints at AZ, Heracles Almelo and Vitesse before Feyenoord signed him in 2015. Vejinovic stayed there for two years before returning to AZ.
After making just two senior appearances for Ajax, Jan-Arie van der Heijden joined Vitesse in 2011. The defender established himself at the Arnhem-based club, eventually signing for Feyenoord in 2015. In his five years there, he made 97 appearances.
Eljero Elia featured for Ajax's youth academy between 2000 and 2002. But at senior level, the winger played for Feyenoord between 2015 and 2017, scoring 17 goals in 55 games.
After impressing with Ajax's reserve team Jong Ajax, Danilo was promoted to the first team in 2020. However, the striker was limited to just 14 appearances in his two years at the club which included a season-long loan to Twente in 2020-21, where he scored 17 goals in 33 games. Feyenoord signed the Brazilian in 2022.