Elko Born looks at the impact Belgian footballers have had on the historical, cultural rivalry between Belgium and The Netherlands…
‘It still gives me a stomach ache,’ FC Twente’s chairman Joop Munsterman recently told Elf Voetbal, reminiscing about the 15th of May 2011: the day Ajax beat Twente 3-1 in a thrilling, last day of the season title decider.
How different it must have been for Ajax’s fans and players. By beating Twente 3-1, Ajax didn’t just win the title, they won their first title in seven years, a nightmare inducing low haul for Ajax’s high (and according to many, arrogant) standards. Low especially because throughout all those years, Ajax needed just one more title in order to place a long sought after ‘third star’ on their red and white jerseys.
The Ajax fans wanted that third star. They were prepared to go to war that third star. To kill for it even.
By clinching that thirtieth title (you get a star for every ten championships), Belgian international Jan Vertonghen, who had been an Ajax player since the age of 16, finally fulfilled the role everyone had long expected of him and his highly rated young teammates. If Vertonghen had a stomach ache, he would have had it before the match, not after it. Continue reading