Joël Veltman will meet his old club Ajax with Brighton & Hove Albion in the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday. Where the 31-year-old defender with the Seagulls receives a lot of praise every week, the people of Amsterdam are currently in a major crisis. Veltman watches it with dismay.
Veltman opted to leave Amsterdam just over three years ago after there was hardly any prospect of a starting place under Erik ten Hag. The native of Velsen chose Brighton, which was fighting relegation at the time.
Veltman has now played more than a hundred matches for the Premier League club and is one of the more experienced players in manager Roberto Di Zerbi’s selection. Veltman realizes that Ajax is the underdog in the mutual meeting on Thursday.
The multifunctional defender feels sorry for his old club, although he no longer speaks to players in the current selection. “Daley Blind, Dusan Tadic, Davy Klaassen. Everyone has left,” he says Algemeen Dagblad. “What people call ‘Ajax DNA’ is now quite lacking. It is so important that staff members and a few players have this.”
Veltman still communicates regularly with some Ajax staff members, although he does not ask them for juicy details. “I can also form a pretty good picture without talking to anyone. Everything is going wrong. Technical director Sven Mislintat was fired. Trainer Maurice Steijn left on Monday. That truckload of incoming and outgoing players. Hassle at board level.”
Veltman finds it incomprehensible that Ajax’s selection continues to muddle along. “At some point, as a player, you have to take responsibility, right? When you play football for Ajax, you have one task: win. But hey, they won’t stay as low as they are now (seventeenth, ed.). I looked at the schedule. After PSV, they will only encounter ‘little ones’ in the competition for the time being.”