Until 1997, it was an annual award, afterwards the prize was rewarded at the end of the football season. In 2006, the award merged with the annual prize named Golden Boot (Gouden Schoen), awarded since 1982 by the Dutch daily De Telegraaf and the Dutch football magazine Voetbal International.

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Ajax made it through to the quarter finals of the Champions League after a 1-1 draw with AS Roma in Group B.

Last season, a 2-0 defeat by Liverpool put them out after they had led the group going into the game.

That was a reality that the then-Ajax coach Louis van Gaal knew in 1995.

The title Dutch Football Talent of the Year (Nederlands Voetbal Talent van het Jaar) has been awarded in the Netherlands since 1984 for footballers under 21. The award was replaced by the Johan Cruyff Trophy (Johan Cruijff Prijs) in 2003.

Before he moved into coaching at Ajax, the 46-year-old's playing career coincided with the most famous and successful example of the club's fabled youth development programme.

"Other clubs are coming too soon for them because it is so much better to play a lot of games in the first team, get to a higher level and then they can go abroad.

The title Dutch Footballer of the Year (Voetballer van het Jaar) has been awarded in the Netherlands since 1984. The award is determined by a poll of Dutch professional footballers playing in the First (Eredivisie) and Second (Eerste Divisie) leagues.

The score also meant that for the second successive year, Fabio Capello's Roma exit the competition after the final game of the second group stage.

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Ajax progressed to the semi-finals with a 3-0 win away to Barcelona and Grim replies an enigmatic "maybe" when asked if they are as good as their generation of 1995.

"Both [manager] Kenny Dalglish and [director of football] Damien Comolli have watched every single game and after each one we speak about how the players have done and what we can put in place to get them to the next level."

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"One of the things we have got out of NextGen is that we have signed who did really well against us for Sporting Lisbon," said McParland.

Roma went close again the 61st minute when Ajax keeper Bogdan Lobant was forced into a superb save, tipping over a dangerous free-kick from Candela.

Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of teenage English talent - splashing out on Jonjo Shelvey,Raheem Sterling,Seyi Ojo and Jordan Ibe in the last two years - and now they have another way to extend the search.

The tournament aims to bring together the continent's best young players and the roll call of teams and individuals involved in its first year is impressive.

• Heaviest home defeat0-3: Ajax v FC Salzburg21/02/14, round of 32 first leg0-3 (aet): Ajax v FK Austria Wien27/09/1989, first round second leg

• Biggest away win0-6: KAA Gent v Ajax12/09/00, first round first leg

Grim was an unused substitute as an 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert scored the winner for a homegrown and unhearalded side against the aristocrats of AC Milan in the 1995 European Cup final.

Barcelona, Manchester City, and Sporting Lisbon are among those already eliminated while several of the players involved in the other semi-final - Inter Milan against Marseille - have tasted first-team European football.

Ajax has developed the so-called TIPS model, which stands for Technique, Insight, Personality and Speed. For each part there are ten criteria. P and S are generally innate properties, but I and T can always be developed further. Ajax coaching sessions always consists of 8 important football ingredients. Together with TIPS, they form the core to the Ajax success philosophy.[8]

• Heaviest away defeat4-1: Budapest Honvéd FC v Ajax22/11/78, third round first leg3-0 on three occasions, most recently v FC Spartak Moskva17/03/11, round of 16 second leg

NextGen will give both his and McParland's current crops plenty of big games to further raise expectations with eight clubs, including new entrants from England and Spain, added from next season.

The result takes them through at the expense of Arsenal, who were beaten 2-1 in Valencia.

With clubs like Liverpool chasing the brightest prospects, will participating in NextGen bring unwanted attention to Ajax starlets at an even earlier age?

Originally, Tottenham did go through to the semi-final after beating Liverpool but the Reds were reinstated after Spurs admitted "inadvertently breaching competition rules".

• Biggest away win1-8: HJK Helsinki v Ajax19/09/79, European Champion Clubs' Cup first round first leg

The coaches' attention has not been limited to their own teams though.

"Being able to tell the young players that they can play big games like this at Ajax is one of the reasons why we play NextGen."

• Heaviest away defeat5-1: FC Bayern München v Ajax22/10/80, European Champion Clubs' Cup second round first leg4-0 on four occasions, most recently v FC Barcelona18/09/13, UEFA Champions League group stage

• Biggest away win1-5: Ferencvárosi TC v Ajax27/09/95, group stage


UEFA Champions League (group stage to final only)• Biggest home win4-0 three times, most recently v APOEL FC10/12/14, group stage

The inside knowledge about Ajax training is unique. Central within the club is the style of play (4-3-3, with goalkeeper[7]), training, behavior and house rules. Ajax strives to keep the way of playing football recognizable; attractive, offensive-minded, creative, fast, fair and preferably far away from the own goal on the opponents’ half.

Roma: Pelizzoli, Cufre, Panucci, Aldair, Candela, Cafu (Fuser 79), Tommasi (Guigou 79), Emerson, Lima (Montella 67), Delvecchio, Cassano. Subs Not Used: Antonioli, Sartor, Ferronetti, De Rossi.

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Roma responded in the 23rd minute when French midfielder Vincent Candela split the Dutch defence with a perfect pass into the path of Antonio Cassano who coolly converted.

"You are obviously scouting the tournament as well and that works out really well when you are looking at other players at other teams."

The Ajax youth system is famous for having produced and still producing many great Dutch internationals like Sjaak Swart, Johan Cruijff, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, John Heitinga, Nigel de Jong, Maarten Stekelenburg, and Gregory van der Wiel.[3][4][5][6]