While Ajax will always be the birthplace of Jairo Riedewald the footballer, his career has been peculiarly bookended by another side much closer to home: the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ side of 2003-04, first through his connection with Dennis Bergkamp, and now under the tutelage of Patrick Vieira.
Riedewald was just seven years old when Arsene Wenger’s side completed the remarkable achievement of an entire league season unbeaten, but he still remembers watching that side. “I know him [Vieira] from his football career, so it’s an honour for me to have him as a manager.
“He’s got the experience. It’s nice for me, not just as a midfield player but for everybody in the team to have such a manager with quality and experience, especially experience in the Premier League. So I think everybody is just looking forward to learning a lot from him.”
But the Palace midfielder sees his footballing foundations at Ajax, another successful Academy product from one of the most prolific production lines in world football. The qualities learned there have stayed with him.
“I think that some things you learn when you come from the Ajax Academy: the diversity playing in different positions. It has helped me during my career as well, being able to play in multiple positions. I think that’s just something that you learn at the Ajax Academy.
“I’m happy now that midfield is my priority and that’s where I want to go now, but there’s always the option to go further on the pitch.” According to Riedewald, a football education in the Netherlands is unique.