De Klassieker: A dominant Dutch duo

Sekou Cisse (R) of Feyenoord duels for the ball with Christian Eriksen of Ajax Amsterdam
© Getty Images

Books, magazine articles and philanthropic essays have been written about the emotions behind *De Klassieker *- the meetings between Ajax and Feyenoord, the two most popular clubs from Amsterdam and Rotterdam respectively.  For the fans of the teams, this match is on a par with other European heavyweight clashes, including Real Madrid-Barcelona.

De Klassieker or 'The Classic' is not only a football game, but a clash between two cities with extreme differences in attitude and culture. Feyenoord are considered to be the club of the dock workers of south Rotterdam (the city has the Europe's biggest harbour) and as a result has the tradition of a hardworking and closely-knit side. Supporters view the team's legends as Coen Moulijn, Wim van Hanegem and Paul Bosvelt - players who reflected the will-power and never-say-die attitude of the fans on the terraces.

In terms of footballing skill, the Dutch are thought to be the Brazilians of Europe.  If that is the case, Rotterdam mirrors Sao Paulo, the industrial heartbeat of Brazil, while Amsterdam is Rio de Janeiro, a cosmopolitan metropolis.  According to Rotterdam poet Jules Deedler, "The country's money is earned in Rotterdam, divided in The Hague and flushed down the toilet in Amsterdam!"  The analogy may not be the most pleasant, but it is indeed indicative of the feelings of the Feyenoord fans. 

Their supporters can be justifiably proud of their achievements, with the side third only behind Ajax and PSV Eindhoven in terms of league titles, with two UEFA Cups and a European Cup to boot. However, when you compare this to Ajax's haul of Dutch championships, more than double that of their Rotterdam rivals, along with their four European Cups and more impressive record in the Dutch Cup - Feyenoord's achievements are somewhat overshadowed.

Not words, but deeds

The Rotterdam outfit can also take pride in their impressive stadium officially named 'Stadion Feyenoord', but known to the footballing world as 'De Kuip' ('The Tub').  Even among Ajax fans, De Kuip is regarded as the most atmospheric ground in the country, as the fans are in such close proximity to the players. Indeed, it is widely claimed that the Feyenoord fans built the stadium for themselves, as it was an unemployment relief project during the economic crisis of the 1930s. This highlights the club's motto 'Geen Woorden Maar Daden' ('Not words but deeds').

Ajax-Feyenoord is also a game which neutral football fans are guaranteed to enjoy.  Some of the most classic *Klassiekers *have been littered with goals. The sides first met in an entertaining 2-2 draw in October 1921, and just past the 40th anniversary, Feyenoord defeated Ajax by an incredible 9-4 scoreline in November 1964. At the beginning of the 1983/84 season, Ajax thrashed their rivals 8-2, but the Rotterdammers got their revenge by winning the league and cup double in that season - and also defeated Ajax by four goals to one in the return match with a side that included Ajax legend Johan Cruyff, who was coming to the end of his playing career.

A healthy respect seems to be growing between both sets of supporters after crowd trouble in the past. One Ajax fan website remarked of the rivalry: "someone you really look down upon, can never be your rival."

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