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After ten seasons at Ajax’s Youth Academy, Lord Klaassen closes the door behind him. Amsterdam moved to Utah, where the talented attacking midfielder will pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer. An honest interview with Klaassen about his selection for the United States and his eventful time as an Ajax player. ‘I’ve had some opportunities at Ajax over the last two years, but I know I have qualities.’
Already at the age of eight, Klaasen switched from Harlem to Koninklizke HFC to Ajax. The technically active midfielder grows up in a team of talented players like Amorico von Axel Tongan, Charlie Setford, Julian Brandes and Prince Anning. These are good years, says proud Klaasen. ‘I had a wonderful time as the absolute highlight of many overseas tournaments. We were almost all over Europe and even held a competition in Qatar. Those experiences will be with you forever. ‘
By leaving Ajax, Klaasen realized how special it was to have played for the Amsterdam club for so long. ‘I feel like playing for the Ajax team is so special, and I look back on a very cold period. I am also grateful because thanks to Ajax I can now play university football to the highest level in the United States. I’m glad I played for the Ajax team, but look forward to my new adventure. ‘
‘It affects your self-confidence’
The cake was finished in ajax, and Klaasen felt strong. The playing time he has played over the last two seasons has been greatly reduced. “I played very little this season. There was a lot of competition in the midfield, and that’s the explanation every time I ask why I did not play. I came in very low, but I played a little too hard. I’m working and never put my hat on it. ‘
Because of that attitude, Ajax still found potential in Klaasen. ‘Jong told me it would be hard to go to Ajax. Ajax thought that step was too big for me. I personally am not likely to stay an extra year on O18 as a dispensation player because the other boys will still like it. Also, I was already thinking about going to America. My mom used to play hockey in Imke USA for a year and my friend also did this activity last year. I’ve heard a lot of good stories from them, so this move has always been an option for me.
That feeling is further reinforced by Klaassen’s opinion of the people in the United States. Klaassen travels to Utah with his father, Rainier. ‘I got a good feeling talking to the many coaches who were there. After the winter holidays, I decided on my own and decided to go to America. Then I informed Ajax that I wanted to leave and Ajax was ready to cooperate. I was happy with that. ‘
‘My goal is definitely to be a professional footballer’
Klaassen will live, play football and study in Utah from the end of July. Aside from football, the departing Ajax midfielder says study is still a serious priority for him. ‘Last year I took the HAVO finals and this year I studied HBO at the Johann Groove Academy, but playing at Ajax is almost impossible. That mix is great in the US, you can both play football and study at a high level. That was an important condition for me and my parents. This year I am going to Utah Valley University. I am going to live with two Mexican teammates in an apartment on a student campus in the United States.
A good side effect is that Klaasen can study at a good level in Utah, however his main focus is on football. Despite his departure from Ajax, the right foot still hopes for a professional career. “Of course my goal is to be a professional footballer. I’re fully committed to getting the MLS, and I think it’s realistic. I know American football is technically and tactically inferior to European football, but they are physically stronger. I’m 24 years old in the United States. I’m going to play football with the boys so it’s a little difficult physically in the beginning.However, technically and strategically I’m confident I can make a difference there.I’ve had some opportunities in Ajax in recent years, but I know I have qualities here too. Had a good time and played in international tournaments for the Orange U14 against the Czech Republic and Japan. There is also hope that the latter can come to football. I have to show it to myself in the United States. ‘
In Ajax, Klaasen heartily praised his move to the United States. ‘I have received many positive reactions from Ajax. The coaches and team members thought it was a great move and were genuinely enthusiastic. My trainer Jean-Paul de Jong was very interested in Ajax U18 and would love to be in touch with me later when I am in the US. I think he’s very good at engaging with his players this way. My old coaches Robin Weldman and Dave Voss also greeted me and congratulated me. ‘
All that is left now is for Utah, where Klaasen will play football under former US international Kyle Beckerman. Klaassen, a former professional footballer, is the coach of the playing team and eagerly awaits working under Ajax youth team Beckerman. ‘The coach has a lot of confidence in me, which makes me feel good. Beckerman has also arranged that I may already train for two weeks with Real Salt Lake’s U23 team in preparation for the start of the season. It is an MLS club and one of the clubs where Beckerman played in the United States. So my time in the United States for me to train is a great start. Leaving family and friends is a little hard for me, but I also know that I will definitely meet them again in the future and I know for what purpose I am going to America. That too gives a lot of encouragement. Playing football and studying at a high level; I’m looking forward to it. ‘
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