FILE – This is a Wednesday, May 3, 2017. file photo of Ajax’s Justin Kluivert as he plays the ball during the first leg semi final soccer match between Ajax and Olympique Lyon in the Amsterdam ArenA stadium, Netherlands, It was a late winner from an 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert that gave Ajax a 1-0 win over AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final. Justin Kluivert, who just turned 18, might have a chance to follow in dads footsteps on Wednesday May 24, 2017, when Ajax faces Manchester United in the Europa League final. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, file)
MIKE CORDER, Associated Press
AMSTERDAM (AP) — It was a late winner from an 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert that gave Ajax a 1-0 win over AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final.
Justin Kluivert, who just turned 18, might have a chance to follow in dad’s footsteps on Wednesday when Ajax faces Manchester United in the Europa League final.
But although they are both forwards, these Kluiverts are not identical.
“My father was a bit taller, and he was a central attacker. And I am more on the side,” said the diminutive winger, who is never afraid to take on a defender and can deliver accurate crosses for teenage teammate Kasper Dolberg in the center of Ajax’s three-man front line.
Like his father in Vienna the last time Ajax won a European title, Justin is likely to be a substitute, with Bertrand Traore and Amin Younes favored to start on the flanks.
If he needs inspiration for how to turn a match, Kluivert only needs to look on YouTube.
“Of course, you see lots of videos of him … and the goal,” Kluivert said of his dad’s decider, a toe-poke finish with his left foot that forced the ball under goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi just before veteran defender Franco Baresi could make a tackle. “One touch with the foot. It is nice to see.”
Like his father before him, Justin Kluivert has risen through the ranks of the Ajax academy, breaking into the first team in the second half of the season after starting in the under-19 team.
After his goal in the Champions League final, Patrick Kluivert went on to play for teams including AC Milan and Barcelona. He also scored 40 goals in 79 appearances for the Dutch national team.
Justin is regularly in touch with his father, a technical director at Paris Saint-Germain this season, for advice and tips.
“We talk a lot and I learn from him,” Kluivert said.
With just a handful of starts for Ajax, Kluivert can only dream of a future career to emulate his father. For now, his focus is purely on Stockholm and the chance to at least match his dad’s final feat.
“One more thing and that is the toe poke,” Justin said. “Or just to score.”
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