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Representing A Continent

Started on 15 November 2019 by TheLFCFan / First Post
Latest Reply on 10 December 2019 by ImThatSybGuy / Last Post
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Dutch Connections


March 31st 2005

They were known for being loud but this was something Luke had never experienced before, he thought, as he stood in the tunnel at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. It was already a nervy enough time, making your first start as a professional footballer but walking out to 80,000 fans making this level of noise didn’t help to settle them.

Kaizer Chiefs were the highflyers in the league so far, with Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates their only real challengers for the league title. For Ajax Cape Town it had been a disappointing start to the season, with the club sat in midtable.

Having merged together the two Cape Town sides, Cape Town Spurs and Seven Stars, in 1999, the formation of Ajax Cape Town hadn’t seen the results expected. The club, backed by a multimillion dollar investments from Dutch side AFC Ajax had only finished in the top half twice since the merge. Last season was certainly their best, finishing as the league's runners up, to today's opponents Kaizer Chiefs.

For Luke, he was kept on after the merge having impressed in the youth setup for a number of years. A mix of pace and skill with a real eye for the goal had stood out for the clubs staff and at age 16, Luke was asked to join the first team training once a week. Under the stewardship of one of South Africa's greatest ever managers, Gordon Igesund, Luke was delighted to be so highly valued.

He had come off the bench before making his first appearance in December 2004 in a 2-1 away win over Dynamos. Since then the young winger continued racking up minutes with his first goal coming in a 3-1 loss to Supersport. Despite the loss, manager Igesund had commented about the energy the young man brought to his team and heaped praise upon the winger.

But today was a first start, a first chance at 90 minutes to really prove his worth against the best team in the country. It was also his chance to test himself against Bafana Bafana right back Jimmy Tau.

Getting out of the tunnel and onto the pitch didn’t help Luke’s nerves but as soon as he got his first touch, those nerves quickly turned into pure determination to impress. Receiving a pass in the 2nd minute, Luke ran hard down his wing before taking on Tau initially bursting past the South African international, however the right backs experience showed as he managed to track back and intercept Lukes cross.

Luke's initial good start continued, with the 18 year old creating two massive chances for his side. But having dominated the start of the game, Kaizer Chiefs showed their class in the 30th minute, opening the games scoring through John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu. ‘Shoes’ as the striker is affectionately known, received the ball from Thabo Mooki and the Bafana striker made no mistake in placing his shot into the bottom right corner.

With the majority of the 80,000 strong crowd still celebrating their sides opener, ‘Shoes’ added a second almost directly from kickoff. This time it was all him. From kick off the now 39 year old weaved his way between defenders before finding himself with space to shoot on the edge of the area. Like an arrow the ball flew into the top corner and again the ‘Amakhosi’ fans showed their delight.

The halftime whistle blew, only to be drowned out by the loud blows on Vuvuzela as the passionate fans celebrated. But those celebrations wouldn’t last long.

Luke was determined to mark his mark in the second half, and he didn’t waste any time in doing so. Luke again found himself deep in his own half with the ball at his feet but with acres of space in front of him. Using his blistering pace the 18 year old sped past many a hopeless tackle before using a neat bit of skill to get past Tau. With Thembinkosi Fanteni in the box, Luke swung in a devilish cross finding the striker’s head perfectly. ‘Terror’ as Fanteni was known, made no mistake, heading home to make the score 2-1.

With Chiefs more than happy to hold onto their lead heading into the dying embers of the game, Ajax Cape Town were looking less and less likely to get anything from the matchup.

Luke, once again was ready to make a name for himself.

With another attack seemingly done for, Luke picked the ball up on the half way line, he danced past ‘Shoes’, sprinted past a tiring Tau, who had been run ragged all day, before cutting inside and unleashing a curling effort from 25 yards.

The whole world seemed to stop for Luke, as he watched the ball travel in slow motion seemingly being stopped by the keeper before just in time the ball swerved just enough past his fingertips.

Before he could react, Luke was mobbed. His teammates tackled him to the floor as everyone piled in. A draw against the best team in the country away from home was a huge achievement for the club and the point had almost all been down to the great display from Luke on his debut.

As Luke and his teammates made their way back to the dressing room the youngster was on cloud nine. The day couldn’t get better. A goal and assist in his first start as a professional it was what dreams were made of. Nothing could improve today, nothing that Luke could imagine, that was until Gordon Igesund handed him a mobile phone.

“Luke, it is Danny Blind from AFC Ajax speaking”

Replies


Griffo: Who wouldn't be!?
Scott:The way in which both dealt with the blow was polar opposites. As seen when George lost his parents he struggles deeply and without Grace's support, whilst she grieves, he turns to booze, ultimately ending the relationship. Hopefully both characters are able to find love and happiness in the future.
That was a touch of a cliffhanger... Ajax here we come?

Great way of working everything in as you went along, love it.
eww Ajax....
what happens.....
A fantastic performance could merit a huge opportunity in Europe for Luke!

The Breakthrough


June 1st 2005

That call from Danny Blind was a life changing moment for Luke Hendricks. Just a couple hours earlier he was stood in the tunnel ready to make his first start for Ajax Cape Town, before putting on a man of the match performance for his club that secured the side a point against the eventual South African champions.

His impressive performance against Kaizer Chiefs didn’t stop there as Luke continued to impress as he helped the Cape Town side to 6th in the league. Knowing that AFC Ajax were watching him only spurred the winger on and those performances were rewarded with Luke receiving a trial in Holland.

The previous season for Ajax was one of change, with the loss of Jelle Van Damme and star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Juventus, the side couldn’t quite find their form as PSV ran away with the league title. The struggles saw Ronald Koeman replaced by Ajax great Danny Blind in February.

But once again, Ajax lost numerous players with Rafael Van der Vaart being the biggest name to leave the club. But none of that mattered to Luke. His dream had always been to impress and show his class on the football pitch. Playing for a club the size of Ajax was a massive step to show just what he could do. The trial was Luke's chance and he went out to impress.

Impress he did, with the youngster being invited to talks once the window opened on June 1st. As Luke entered the stadium he was welcomed by an already waiting Danny Blind at the front desk.

“Luke, how are you? I hope the flight was ok and you are excited to be here?” questioned the former Holland defender.
“Hello Mr Blind. I am well thank you, the flight was good, now I am ready to get to work and impress you as best as I can.” replied Luke.
“Please, it’s Danny, let's go up the office and get everything signed.”

As Luke followed the manager to his office, it was a walk that showed off the history of the club. With thirty Eredivisie titles as well as four European Cups to the clubs name, photos were spread across the walls, showing winning captains lifting trophies.

Blind stopped at a particular photo of him slotting a penalty against Real Zaragoza in the 1995 European Super Cup Final, “I have some great memories here already as a player, but we haven’t hit these heights in Europe for a while now, I want to change that. How does that sound Luke?” asked Blind.

“Sounds perfect to me, I want to be a success that’s what I dreamed of as a boy and to do it here like Steven, will be great.” answered Luke.

Steven Pienaar was fast becoming a star in South Africa, with the attacking midfielder making his way from Ajax Cape Town to Holland a few years earlier. Since then the Bafana Bafana star had won two Eredivisie titles, whilst also being named as the clubs ‘Talent of the Year’ in 2003. He was the blueprint for all prospects coming over from the Ajax Cape Town team and was what everyone making the move wanted to achieve.

Having entered the office, Danny Blind explained what he had planned out for the future of the club and the role he expected Luke to play. Excitement was building for Luke as he began to picture his future as one of Ajax’s key men, winning titles and pushing for European glory once again.

“I believe that is all Luke, how about we put pen to paper?” said Blind as he handed a contract and pen to the clubs latest recruit.

Replies


Griffo:Glad you are enjoying mate. Seems like Ajax is indeed Lukes next move.
Syb: Just for you! ;)
Trotman: he signs ;)
Scott:The game and following performances have certainly given Luke a chance, lets see if he can take it!
Tbf, this update is the only place PSV fans will see their club win something... good update :P
TOP OF THE
Exciting times no doubt! Great writing as always
The hard work is paying off for Luke. Let's hope that drive continued in Holland to enable him to excel to new heights.

A Step to Far

6th July 2007

Having made his move to Europe in the summer of 2005, Luke’s dreams of winning the biggest trophies had so far been just that, a dream. His debut season was painful to say the least, with Ajax falling to 4th, 24 points behind PSV, the eventual champions. Despite the winter signing of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who ended the year as the clubs top scorer, the side were miles of competing, signalling the end of Danny Blind, the man who signed Luke, time at the club.

For Luke it had been a tough start to life in Holland, with the team struggling, he struggled to take advantage of his chances. His debut was a success, one of the few successes of his career at the club so far. A Johan Cruijff Schaal final against PSV saw a lacklustre first half, with the opening goal of the game having to wait until the 52nd minute. Unfortunately for Luke and Ajax, it went the way of PSV. With the clock ticking down and Ajax looking likely to suffer in the seasons curtain raiser, manager Danny Blind bought off striker Angelos Charisteas for Luke, moving Ryan Babel into the forward position with Luke playing on the left flank.

The move sparked a change in the game with PSV having previously been dominant, Ajax got back into the game. Steven Pienaar, one of Luke's national teammates, made a break down his wing, cutting in 20 yards out. Opening up to shoot, the tricky winger saw Morocan, Nourdin Boukhari open in space. Pienaar squared the ball for the central midfielder, who struck his shot perfectly, tying the matchup for his side.

With scores tied, Luke scored the winner on his debut with a curling effort from just inside the box. A goal kick from former South African goalkeeper Hans Vonk, found Luke on the halfway line. Luke turned and faced up to his defender, André Ooijer before playing the ball across to Nigel de Jong. Having passed the ball on, Luke was off, sprinting past Ooijer with ease. De Jong’s pass was perfect, allowing for Luke to take control of the ball and taking it into the box. Brazilian center back Alex was the next one to beat, however Luke bent his shot around the towering defender. The shot curled into the corner leaving Gomes with no chance.

It was the perfect way to mark a debut for Luke, scoring the winner and lifting his first professional trophy. But the season quickly went downhill. Five losses in the clubs opening thirteen games, with one being to biggest title rivals PSV, saw Ajax suffer. Personally, Luke had seen mixed fortunes to begin the year, since his heroics in the Super Cup, only making three appearances for his side in their opening thirteen.

That number wasn’t added to for what seemed like forever for Luke, as he found himself playing with Jong Ajax more and more. But an injury to Ryan Babel in a 3-2 loss against Feyenoord in matchday 22, saw Luke promoted to the first team. This time, the South African impressed, and was given his first start in the final game of the season. It was a great game for Luke as he scored twice in his sides 4-2 win over already relegated RKC Waalwijk. The game also impressed Danny Blind as the manager told Luke he could expect a lot more game time the following season.

However, with the departure of Blind, Henk ten Cate was named as the new manager and immediately sent Luke back to the Jong Ajax squad. It hurt for Luke. It felt like his hard work wasn’t being noticed and having finally got, and seemingly taken his chance in the final game of last season, it had been taken away from him again.

It looked like the South African was set for a year with the youth side, but a 3-0 loss to Sparta Rotterdam saw ten Cate make changes to the squad, promoting Luke in the process. Coming off the bench in their next game against Willem II, in a 6-0 win. From then on Luke showed glimpses of true quality but failed to see any consistency, causing his boss to lose patience.

The season ended in heartbreak for Ajax, with a season of drama seeing the side miss out on a league title by one goal difference having won the final game of the season 2-0. PSV regained the title having won 5-1 in their final game and the heartbreak was clear to see for Luke and his team. Losses to bottom half teams, in Sparta and Vitesse, games that was lost 3-0 and 4-2 respectively had ultimately cost the club the Eredivisie.

Having had a summer to get over the heartbreaking way of losing the title, pre-season was set to begin tomorrow. That's what made the call from Henk ten Cante even more interesting for Luke.

“Take a seat Luke” ten Cante said as Luke walked into his office, “Would you like a glass of water?” he continued.

“No thanks boss, I am alright thank you.” the South African replied.

“Right then, I will cut to the chase, we have accepted an offer for you Luke.” stated the Ajax manager.

“You will be leaving us today and joining Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia.”

Replies


Jopa: Jopa firing shots! You love to see it!
Syb: Well thats you never winning the league again...
Griffo: Further change, probably more nerves this time!
Scott:Unfortunately, despite the hard work it wasn't enough for Luke to make enough of an impact in Holland.
Luke's time at Ajax had glimpses of promise, but it's always difficult for any player to impress without a consistent run of games. A change in management certainly didn't help and now he finds himself cast off to Russia. A new chapter awaits, certainly an interesting one!
Looks like Luke is headed to the home of international sporting bans!
TOP OF THE. On topic, good thing Luke got a way out of that shithole

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