Edwin van Der Sar on resigning as Ajax CEO: I’m just done

Edwin van der Sar has spoken about his decision to leave Ajax as CEO where he opens up about the responsibility taking its toll on him in an interview with Ajax TV

The former Champions League-winning goalkeeper spent seven years in the chief executive role but has decided to leave the role days after the Eredivisie season ended with the Amsterdam club finishing 13 points behind champions Feyenoord – it is the first time the club missed out in four years. 

It is the first time since 2009 the club has finished lower than second-place in the Dutch league which saw the club lose out on the second Champions League spot to rivals PSV Eindhoven – which surprisingly saw Ruud van Nistelrooy resign from the head coach role days before the last game of the season. 

In the interview, Van der Sar said there was not one reason that stood out in the role but spoke about the constant demand the role had. 

“There is not one thing I can point to as to why I am leaving,” said the former Juventus and Manchester United goalkeeper. 

“There is constant pressure on you. At some point it’s enough and then you have to ask yourself if I can bring what I want to bring, or if I have to let other people do that. Is the cake finished? Yes, maybe. I’ve talked about that before with my wife and people around me.”

Despite insisting this season’s disappointing finish in the league was not a major contribution to his leaving, the former Fulham player admitted he hoped to leave the club in a better position. 

He added: “Of course you prefer to say goodbye with a bowl or something beautiful. It has not become what we hoped and perhaps expected. That hurts. 

“Not only with me, but with everyone who has a warm heart for Ajax. It’s fine this way. I am happy that I was able to contribute to the development of Ajax. I had to make this decision for myself and my environment. It is up to the management team to take the next steps. I have every confidence that they will.”

Van der Sar experienced highs and lows in his period in the top job and talks about the success of putting Ajax back on the international map. 

He said: “In the 2017/18 season we wondered whether we could make Ajax worthy of the Champions League. That involved a different budget and we had discussions about it. I’m proud that it worked. 

“Over the past five years we have had tremendous benefits to grow and return the name and fame that Ajax should have. We’ve done great things. You leave in a year in which you finish third, which hurts, but in general I am very satisfied with how we all did.”

Van der Sar, who enjoyed his playing career at the Johan Cruyff Arena throughout the 1990s, has already said his goodbyes to his fellow employees at the club but believes what is happening behind-the-scenes at the club will put them back at the top of Dutch football once again. 

“They were already there when I came here or were already working in De Meer. Those short conversations, the warm hugs, the feeling and tears. You can feel that,” says an emotional Van der Sar. 

“I’m just done. Constant pressure, the telephone, calling, appointments…I put a lot of time, energy and strength into that. Not only in the Netherlands, but also abroad. The performance on the field is visible, but what happens behind the scenes is not directly visible. That will come later. It gives me satisfaction that we have been able to see a number of aspects and will see them again in the future.”

GBeNeFN | Tom Phillips

More European Football News