OneFootball·10 June 2023
OneFootball·10 June 2023
This man stands alone in the history books – and below we break down the career of AFC Ajax, Real Madrid CF and AC Milan icon who will take on a FedEx Ambassador role in Istanbul for the UEFA Champions League Final.
There is arguably nobody on the planet who knows more about what it takes to win the Champions League than Clarence Seedorf.
Not only did the Dutch legend lift the famous trophy four times during his career, but he remains the only player in history to have won the Champions League with three different clubs.
The first club he tasted Champions League glory with was Ajax, when he was still a teenager.
Seedorf came through the fabled Ajax youth system and became the club’s youngest ever Eredivisie player when he burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old.
Three years later he was part of the side which beat AC Milan in the 1994/95 Champions League final, courtesy of Patrick Kluivert’s late strike.
That unforgettable night in Vienna would have a transformative impact on Seedorf’s young life. “Everyone dreams of winning a European Cup final and I was lucky to do it at just 19,” he told Uefa.
“As soon as I woke up [the day after the final], I felt different, strange, somehow special.”
The following summer, Seedorf moved to Sampdoria, where he would spend one season before earning himself a switch to European giants Real Madrid.
After winning the LaLiga title in his first season at the Bernabéu, Seedorf’s second season with Los Blancos was notable for two things in particular. The first was a scarcely believable long range goal against rivals Atlético Madrid, and the second was another Champions League winners’ medal to add to his collection.
It was a special final for Seedorf personally in which he came up against his old Ajax team-mate Edgar Davids against Juventus at the Amsterdam ArenA, and again it was settled by a solitary goal, with Predrag Mijatović sealing Madrid’s first European Cup for 32 years.
“It had become more than an obsession for the club,” Seedorf told Uefa afterwards.
“Every day we’d go and eat in a restaurant and all everyone talked about was the final. Now I’m going to have a party [in Amsterdam] and then again in Madrid!”
Seedorf spent three years with Madrid before returning to Italy to sign for this year’s Champions League finalists Inter. But it was following a controversial crosstown switch to the Nerazzurri’s fierce rivals Milan that he lifted the Champions League again.
A goalless draw culminated in a penalty shoot-out and though Seedorf missed his spot-kick, Milan ultimately prevailed, and their Dutch midfield maestro became the first player in history to win the Champions League with three different clubs.
“It’s incredible, incredible,” Seedorf told Uefa. “I am so, so happy. It has been a great spectacle for us, a great atmosphere, a great stadium.”
He wasn’t done there. Despite the heartbreak of losing to Liverpool in Istanbul after being 3-0 up at half-time in 2004/05, Seedorf and Milan got their revenge in 2007.
Liverpool were again the opponents and Athens was the venue, and this time Milan won 2-1 to clinch the Champions League for the second time in the club’s history.
And if a fourth winners medal wasn’t sweet enough, Seedorf also won the Uefa Best Midfielder award at the end of the 2006/07 season.
It was a thoroughly deserved accolade for a phenomenal footballer whose tenacious physicality, beautiful technique and tactical intelligence meant he could play anywhere in midfield and be a threat in both boxes. They didn’t call him ‘Il Professore’ in Italy for nothing.
The streets will never forget Clarence Seedorf, and nor will the Champions League.