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By ESPN Staff

Ajax - Squad Profiles

Joey Didulica (goalkeeper)
Born: 14.10.77
Nationality: Australian

Didulica

Bought from Aussie club Melbourne Knights in September 1999, the tall Antipodean keeper initially found the going tough in Amsterdam. But he seemed to grow in confidence following a loan spell at Ajax's Belgian satellite club, Germinal Beerschot and with the veteran Fred Grim retiring at the end of last season, he had reason to believe he would step into his shoes.

However, an early season ankle injury which forced him onto the sidelines for six weeks was not the start to the campaign he had hoped for.


Group A: Barcelona | Bayer Leverkusen | Inter Milan | Newcastle
Group B: Ajax Amsterdam | Arsenal | AS Roma | Valencia
Group C: AC Milan | Borussia Dortmund | L Moscow | Real Madrid
Group D: Basle | Deportivo | Juventus | Manchester Utd

Bogdan Lobont (goalkeeper)
Born: 18.01.78
Nationality: Romanian

Promising youngster who, for the second time in his career, seriously injured a shoulder this summer, a problem expected to keep him out until the New Year.

Romania's number two keeper at Euro 2000, he joined Ajax from Rapid Bucharest the previous year.

May put Joey Didulica and Henk Timmer under pressure for a starting place if he regains full fitness in the next few months.

Henk Timmer (goalkeeper)
Born: 31.12.71
Nationality: Dutch

With all Ajax's keepers - Didulica, Bogdan Lobont and Maarten Stekelenburg - on the injured list this summer, the club brought in the ex-AZ Alkmaar man on loan.

Formerly with Feyenoord and FC Zwolle, he recently hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after being accused of drink driving.

Made two appearances in the Champions League's first phase, against Inter and Rosenborg.

Andre Bergdolmo (defender)
Born: 13.10.71
Nationality: Norwegian

Attack-minded left-back who played for Norway at the 2000 European Championships and left Rosenborg for the Amsterdammers straight after the tournament.

Very reliable, has a good left foot and is hard to get past. He began his career at Lillestrom in the early 1990s and has very much been a man for the Champions League this season, making an impression during the first phase.

Christian Chivu (defender)
Born: 26.10.80
Nationality: Romanian

Chivu

Chivu burst upon the European scene with a number of impressive displays at left-back or wing-back at Euro 2000.

These days, however, he is used by Ajax as a sweeper and is proving to be both a fine defensive organiser and influential young captain.

Rumoured to be wanted by a host of Italian and Spanish clubs, he joined Ajax from Universitea Craiova in 1999 for £3 million and has proved to be a shrewd acquisition. Still only 22, but with bags of experience under his belt.

Petri Pasanen (defender)
Born: 24.09.80
Nationality: Finnish

Combative young centre-back signed from Lahti in the summer of 2000.

Instantly won a regular first team spot at Ajax but broke a foot at the start of last season and subsequently has had few chances to shine.

Made his Finnish top-flight debut for FC Kuusysi at the tender age of 15.

Tagged the new Sami Hyypia by some, he does have similarities to his fellow Finn.

Hatem Trabelsi (defender)
Born: 25.01.77
Nationality: Tunisian

Highly-accomplished right-back, who played for his country at last summer's World Cup finals.

Signed by Ajax from the CS Sfaxien club at the start of 2001-02 and quickly became an automatic choice.

Began as a right-winger, so he is a real danger when breaking forward and whipping in dangerous crosses.

A central figure in the team for Ronald Koeman in the first phase of this competition.

Jelle van Damme (defender)
Born: 10.10.83
Nationality: Belgian

Powerfully-built centre-back drafted into the Ajax pro squad last season after excellent work at Germinal Beerschot, Ajax's sister club in Belgium.

Previously with Beveren and Lokeren, he currently plays for Belgium's Under 19 side.

Made his mark in the Champions League first phase for all the wrong reasons as he was sent off in the 1-1 home draw with Rosenborg.

Tomas Galasek (midfielder)
Born: 15.01.73
Nationality: Czech

Right-sided midfielder of no little drive and technical ability. Started out in his homeland with Banik Ostrava, then moved to Holland to play for Willem II before getting the call from Ajax in 2000.

Made his full debut for the Czech Republic in the spring of 1995 but is only now beginning to establish himself in the national side.

Picked up a couple of bookings in the Champions League first phase to highlight his commitment to the cause.

Jari Litmanen (midfielder)
Born: 20.02.71
Nationality: Finnish

In the end common sense had to prevail. After three years mainly spent on the bench at Barcelona and Liverpool, the brilliant attacking midfielder finally realised he had no more time to waste and returned to the club he served with such distinction between 1992 and 1999.

Quick on the turn and blessed with exceptional close control, he is an expert at ghosting into goal scoring positions from deep. A genius on the ball, he has the ability to turn a half-chance into a goal.

Maxwell (midfielder)
Born: 27.08.81
Nationality: Brazilian

Left-sided midfielder or left-back whose strengths are his speed of the mark, his adhesive touch on the ball and good support play.

Arrived from the Cruzeiro club of Belo Horizonte in the summer of 2001.

An outstanding prospect, this 21-year-old is relishing his taste of success in the Champions League this season and is bound to improve thanks to the experience.

John O'Brien (midfielder)
Born: 29.08.77
Nationality: American

Flexible, consistent player who fits the bill in a variety of midfield positions and can also play at full-back.

A rare example of an American player emerging from the youth ranks of a European club, he came to Ajax as a 16-year-old and step by step made it to the first team.

Very influential as the USA reached the last-eight of World Cup 2002, he was something of a peripheral figure for Ajax in the first round of the Champions League.

Steven Pienaar (midfielder)
Born: 17.03.82
Nationality: South African

Intelligent and technically-astute schemer who Ajax recruited in 2001 from their South African feeder club, Ajax Cape Town and who has been making stunning progress ever since.

Made his full international debut in a friendly against Turkey in May 2002, a strong performance earning him a place in his country's World Cup squad. Scored in the 2-0 Champions League win at Lyon in October.

Rafael Van Der Vaart (midfielder)
Born: 11.02.83
Nationality: Dutch

Van Der Vaart

Ajax fans must have been relieved on hearing that their goal-scoring midfielder was ready to return to action after a spell on the sidelines this autumn with a knee injury.

The beautifully-balanced, speedy and skilful left-sided playmaker is nothing less than the most exciting young prospect in Holland and it is only a matter of time before he is lured away by a cheque book-waving club from the Premiership, Italy or Spain.

With Ajax since the age of ten, he has the club firmly in his heart.

Nourdin Boukhari (forward)
Born: 30.06.80
Nationality: Dutch/Moroccan

Versatile young attacker signed from Sparta Rotterdam at the start of the season.

Of Moroccan parentage but born and raised in Rotterdam, the left-footer has experience as a playmaker, on the wing and as a striker.

A fringe player for Ajax coach Ronald Koeman in the first round of Champions League matches, he has been bought very much as a prospect for the future.

Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' (forward)
Born: 23.02.83
Nationality: Egyptian

This teenage striker was one of the revelations of last season thanks to his pace and impeccable goal scoring instincts, but at the time of writing he is in danger of throwing it all away.

He has reacted with tantrums when dropped by Ronald Koeman and the latter has hinted he would not be sad to see the youngster carry out his threat to quit the club.

Despite those problems, he has been used by the Ajax boss this season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (forward)
Born: 03.10.81
Nationality: Swede

Ibrahimovic

The pros are that the Swede with Bosnian family ties is a special talent. For a big man, he shields and controls the ball very well, he is quick and has the ability to to play through the middle or out wide and he scores goals.

But the cons relate to his lack of discipline both on and off the pitch and his tendency to talk too much about himself.

Ajax signed him from Malmo in the summer of 2001, paying a Swedish record £5 million.

He scored three goals in the first phase of the Champions League as he carried the Ajax charge and they will need the better side of him to be on show in the second phase.

Victor Sikora (forward)
Born: 11.04.78
Nationality: Dutch

Bought from Ronald Koeman's old club Vitesse Arnhem this summer, the front runner with Polish roots can play as an orthodox winger or a central striker.

Once on the shopping list of Fulham, he is often compared to the Dutch great Marc Overmars and both started their professional life at the same club, Go Ahead Eagles of Deventer. A starter in three Champions League first round games.

Andy Van Der Meyde (forward)
Born: 30.09.79
Nationality: Dutch

Very talented right-sided attacker who made his senior bow for Holland last spring against the USA and marked the occasion with a well-taken goal.

Made a low-key Ajax debut in 1997 but it was only after going on loan to Twente Enschede in the 1999-00 season that he really got his act together, returning the following season to play a pivotal role in Ajax's League and Cup double. Being rewarded with regular Champions League action this season.