Ajax have announced that Louis van Gaal, one of their most successful all-time coaches, will return to the club as director general for the start of the 2012/13 season. The position has been vacant since Rik van den Boog vacated it in June.
Van Gaal will only begin his new role next July because, although he was sacked as Bayern Munich coach in April, he is under contract with the German giants for another seven and a half months.
The 60-year-old, a former midfielder, was released by Ajax in his early-20s, having failed to make an appearance for their first team. However, he enjoyed considerable success in the Amsterdam giants’ hot-seat following his appointment in 1991.
In a six-year reign, indeed, Van Gaal guided Ajax to three Eredivisie titles and as many Dutch Cups, as well as a UEFA Cup, UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup.
The latter two triumphs came in an unforgettable 1995. In that year’s European final, a team including Edwin van der Sar, Frank Rijkaard, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, the De Boer twins, Marc Overmars and Jari Litmanen overcame Fabio Capello’s AC Milan in Vienna. With the deadlock intact, Rijkaard, playing against his former employers, set up 18-year-old substitute Patrick Kluivert for the only goal in the 85th minute. Six months later Ajax beat Gremio on penalties to become world champions.
Van Gaal went on to coach Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern, winning league crowns with all three, and led the Netherlands for two years from 2000. He was named Ajax’s technical director in 2003, but quit the role one year later.
The reigning Eredivisie champions are coached by Frank de Boer, while Johan Cruyff is on their born of directors. The former was under Van Gaal’s tutelage at the Amsterdam Arena, Camp Nou and for the Oranje, while the latter was his squad-mate in the early 1970s, though the pair fell out thereafter.
Ajax are currently fifth in the Eredivise, 11 points adrift of leaders AZ.