Kees aims to fly with Swans
Midfielder Kees de Boer talks about growing up at Ajax’s prestigious academy, training under Dennis Bergkamp and making his move to Swansea.
Mention Ajax and de Boer and thoughts would immediately turn to brothers Frank or Ronald.
But one former Ajax player called de Boer is hoping to make his name with Swansea City.
Kees de Boer signed on with the under-18s last summer after spending six seasons at Ajax’s prestigious youth academy.
The Dutch club have produced a conveyor belt of players down the years with Johan Cruyff, Marco van Baston and Edgar Davids amongst the most high-profile graduates.
“Ajax was an amazing place to learn and grow up,” de Boer says.
“You could get a sense of those players and the history within the walls there.
“We were lucky enough to have former players like Ronald de Boer and Dennis Bergkamp take us for some training sessions while I was there which was a great experience.
“There was pressure to get results because of the history of the club. You could understand because the club prided itself on being the best in Holland.
“It was the best academy in my country and I think it is still one of the best in the world. It was a privilege to be there.”
The 17-year-old midfielder’s dreams of playing for the famous Amsterdam club came to an end last summer.
But de Boer’s departure from Ajax opened another door as he was offered a chance by the Swans.
“When my time at Ajax came to an end, I had a lot of options to go to clubs in Holland but I wanted a new challenge,” he says.
“It was at that time Swansea offered me a trial. It was an experience that would help me to where I am today.
“I came and trained with the under-18s and under-23s in April last year. I was blown away by the facilities. It was an amazing experience.
“I had the chance to speak with former Ajax player Mike van der Hoorn and Kenji Gorre, who has a Dutch background.
“They told me very good things about the club and it was good to see other Dutch players here, so that helped me with my choice.
“I went back and could not get Swansea out of my head. From the first moment I arrived I had a great feeling about this club.”
The youngster officially joined the Swans on a three-year deal last July and had an immediate impact with a goal in pre-season before providing an assist to help the under-18s to a 2-0 win over Reading on the opening day of the season.
He has since progressed to make his debut with the under-23s in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham in February.
“Things are going well,” he says. “I was very happy to make my debut with the under-23s last month.
“It is more of a challenge at that level. The speed of the game is much higher compared to Dutch academy football. But the experience is helping me develop and grow as a player.
“I am hoping to get more minutes at this level before the end of the season. I feel I have made a decent start, but I want there to be more.
“Playing at a higher level has given me a good taste of what is to come next season and I have to continue to prepare myself for that step.”
Despite the Ajax links, de Boer explains that the brothers with the same surname are no relation to him.
“Everyone asks if I am related to them,” he laughs “People make the link to Ajax and the de Boer name.
“The truth is I am not, but it is great to have such a famous football name attached to me.
“Both those players did so much for Dutch football, but I would like to be a new de Boer in the game. I guess it means I have a lot to live up to.”