Donny van de Beek is one of the most successful graduates of the famous Ajax academy. The 24-year-old was handed his debut by Frank de Boer before cementing himself as a regular under Peter Bosz.
The 2016/17 season was his breakthrough year at the Amsterdam club and the brilliant campaign culminated in the Europa League final against, funnily enough, Manchester United in Stockholm.
Manchester United had finished sixth in the Premier League, meaning that victory against Ajax was the only path into next season’s Champions League for Jose Mourinho in his first season.
Mourinho has been typically smug about the victory against Ajax afterwards and the Portuguese manager has been praised as ‘smart’ by Van de Beek, who recalled the final loss in an interview on Vibe With FIVE.
“We had a good season, we played well but I think Jose Mourinho was really smart about the tactics,” the 24-year-old midfielder said.”
“He knew our strengths, the pressure and everything. Daley Blind was playing that time also at United. I talked to him also about that game. He gets the ball but he put it directly to (Marouane) Fellaini but we were small guys there.
“Our strengths were pressure but we had no chance to do that. We were not on our best game, we didn’t create any chances. It was nice to play with Ajax in the final but we didn’t play well. They (United) did it really smart.”
Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured the victory for United against the young Ajax side, which featured Van de Beek, Mathijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Davinson Sanchez among others.