In the ‘QuickWizver’ section, Ajax Showpieces: Ajax Showtime Magazine Zooms Weekly at The Youth Academy.
Timo Johnson transfers Ajax to the US after four seasons. The small, but technically very talented midfielder is going to study and play football in California. Despite leaving Ajax, Johnson has not given up hope for a career, and one day ending up at MLS is his American dream. “I hope it can work.”
Being told to leave Ajax would be a severe blow to many young players, and in the case of Johnson it was not so bad. The left leg was already slightly anticipating the exit and was already busy preparing other plans. ‘We hold evaluation meetings at Ajax every six months. Ajax already told me last December that it would be difficult to pursue it. I understood that too. Ajax has a lot of good players and the competition is getting bigger. I was told I had no place left, and that’s how it came to be. It’s not a big deal. I already realized it was coming, and by that time I was already on my way to the United States. That’s what I’m been aiming for for a while, ” says seventeen – year – old Johnson.
The midfielder played as an Ajax player in his last season as a dispensation player for the Ajax U17. Johnson actually owned the Ajax U18, but preferred the delivery provided by the technician. ‘Yes, I was happy with that. There were a lot of players in the O18 this season and they didn’t really play. I did not like that scene, so looking back it was the perfect decision to stay in O17 for an extra year. However, I was expecting, in fact, to play more than I had ever played in O17. The coach said he had doubts between me and the two younger players, but in his view he chose them because they were more likely to grow in Ajax. Too bad, but I certainly don’t think he’s inferior to those people.
Johnson’s Ajax time started out very promising, but he was forced to leave due to lack of playing time. In the summer of 2018, he converted Leiden Amateur Club UVS to Ajax and launched O14. ‘The first three months had to be spent. I got all the balls in my amateur club, the game was all around me, but in Ajax it was different. There I was on the field with eleven guys and they could all make a difference. Everyone was so nice, but after those first few months, I was hooked on it. I was a starter and played better in tournaments. At Ajax U15 I finally had my best year under Nordin Water, but it dropped from U16. ‘
‘I was little, the other boys all grew up fast’
Johnson says his modest physique – he’s not short enough to say the least – began to fall on him more and more. “I was small, the other boys all grew up fast. The difference got bigger and bigger. At one point it was unbearable for me. I’m always been on the small side, but since then it’s very serious. Fifty centimeters tall I think you can still be technically better, but such length significantly limits you in some aspects of football.It’s very frustrating.I often think: What can I achieve if I am as healthy as others? I will continue to grow for a while more Is predicted, so I hope it will be fulfilled and the height difference with other players will decrease.
His technical and creative abilities are currently unable to adequately compensate for physical disabilities. Johnson wants to leave Ajax, but looks back with great pride on his time in Amsterdam. “I feel like I’ve got more of it. I’m proud to look back on my time at Ajax. I’m from Oestgeest, and no one in our area plays for a professional club. That’s why many people do not believe that I played for Ajax. It’s really unique. I have had many wonderful experiences with Ajax and played with and against real great players. It’s weird and will always be with me. ‘
To the United States
Amsterdam becomes the United States. Despite the much-needed interest from the Netherlands, Johnson’s choice remains firm. ‘It was clear to me for some time that I should go to America, but when I knew I was going to leave Ajax, the interest of the Dutch was high. Vitesse, NEC, PEC Zwolle and FC Groningen were interested, but I did not respond. If I stayed in the Netherlands I would end up in a club that does not allow many of its own youth to advance to the first team. And then I get stuck in a youth academy, I don’t want much time. That perspective is better in the United States, and I can better combine study and better play with each other.
Johnson passed his VWO exam this summer, and he feels it is important to continue to develop his qualities on the study benches in addition to his football career. “I’m going to go to college and play football in Santa Barbara, California. It’s junior college, studying for a year. After that year I would go to a big university and then I would study football at a high level. I think it’s very important to be able to combine those two things well in the United States. That’s why I currently don’t have to choose between school or football, I just love it so much. I have all the options open. If it didn’t work out in football, I could always fall behind in good education. I would probably like to study something in the field of Business Administration or Economics. ‘
Still, school is a backup and his big dream for a professional football career. “My big goal is to end up in MLS and a great club in Europe. I’m confident it will work. I will always work hard to become a professional footballer. It’s hard to say how realistic it is, but I know I can be a unique player in the United States. There is less technicality. Because there are players that can distinguish me in that.
Farewell to Ajax
After four years in Ajax, Johnson leaves de Tocomst this summer. The midfielder received good reactions from his own coach Yuri Rose and Zhang Ajax coach John Heidinga. I talked to Rose and Heidinga and they both think this is a very appropriate move for me. They think I am going that way on my own and wish me good luck. I also got good feedback from the team. Some of them wanted it in secret, I think, but of course you can handle a certain amount based on the study. It’s not for everyone. ‘
But for Lord Johnson’s former Ajax teammate Lord Clausen, who is leaving for the United States this summer. ‘That’s so awesome. We don’t know if we both like this, but in the end we will be very close to each other. He will go to another university, but we will no doubt meet each other.
Johnson clearly looks forward to the beginning of his American adventure. ‘I’m going to live with two Dutch boys who already live in an apartment. I’ve already talked to them and I’m glad I already have something. I will soon be living in a nice place near the beach, so that opportunity is very good. I’m looking forward to starting in the United States. ‘
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