| 53 Dušan Tadić last summer joined the ranks of “the lancers” and became the cock of the team. In less than a year, he imposed himself as a leader of the team, which was unlucky to be left out of the Champions League nal following its two-leg semi- nal against Tottenham. However, in Tadić the “sons of the gods” got the player who deserves the most credit for Ajax’s dream season. The team achieved a double crown in the Netherlands, and Tadić completed his footballing doctoral dissertation by managing, with 28 goals, to become the top striker in the Dutch league (level with Luuk de Jong), but also top in goal assistants (13 passes for scores) of the top ‘Eredivisie’ echelon. Nevertheless, despite achieving fascinating gures in theNetherlands, Dušan left thestrongest impression in theChampions League.Togetherwith his teammates, hebrought downgiantswithmuchbigger budgets, like BayernMunich, Real Madrid and Juventus.Dušan’spirouettesanddance with the ball, complementedby the Balkan style in his play, will be well remembered by the players of the great Real, who were sent packing by our hero. TheOld Lady fromTurin alsoexperiencedTadić’sdomination. However, in the end, unfortunately, despite victory (0:1) in London, Tottenham extinguished the ame of Ajax’s dreams in theheart of Amsterdam, with victory (2:3) in amatch for heart attacks, bookinganEnglishduel against Liverpool in the Champions League nal on 1st June. “It’s a great shame that we did not manage to qualify for the Champions League nal. Based on everything we showed, I think we deserved to ght for the cup. But at least thewholeworld is talkingabout Ajax and saying that we are actually the big winners of the Champions League. Europe admired us as a teamthatplaysbeautiful anduncompromising football, as a team that doesn’t fear the biggest names. I’m in nitely sorry, but I’ll always remember our journey through this elite competition,” says Tadić, a modest guy fromBačkaTopolawho’s on a temporarywork assignment in Amsterdam. “We had bad luck in the Champions League, we didn’t really even have any lucky in the return leg against Tottenham. It was almost entirely in our hands, but the goddess Thalia was on the side of the English. I generally believe in myself. I worked very hard and sacri ced a lot to achieve all of the aforementioned. When a person invests themselves entirely in something, the reward simply must come in the end. This, among others, also applies to the entire Ajax team. Without them, I wouldn’t have ourished myself. I believe that many people are proud of us. I de nitely walk with my head up.” TheDutch and Europeanmedia reported that Ajax had a proper commander for the Champions League in the gure and deeds of DušanTadić. “That sounds really nice. But I also have to emphasisemy teammates. Each of us had an important role. Nobody fell o track or elevated themselves above the team. That’s also why we had some noteworthy results. This Ajax team is packed with great players, who are also great people. We also certainly can’t forget our wonderful coach, Erik ten Hag. He composed us exceptionally well.” Following homework assignments set in the Champions League and the Dutch Championship, one enigma imposed itself. It is unclear whether Ajax will succeed in keeping its stable of stars among its ranks, while next season it will against try to mount an assault on the cup of the best club competition, which is last won in 1995. “I really enjoy myself in Amsterdam. I feel happy, comfortable. Life is fabulous. This is the only place where I’ve felt like I could totally settle down. It is a beauty. I spend the little free time I have with my family and friends in Amsterdam. This city has a soul. I hope to stay at Ajax.We’ll see...” Not everything was great for Dušan prior to his arrival at Ajax. He spent four years in the ranks of English Premier League club Southampton, where he makes it crystal clear that he wasn’t happy. That’s why he was rmly resolved to accept the o er of “The Lancers”at any cost, and to continue his life with his family in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. “It’s true that I wanted to leave the Premier League. I don’t know how to describe that feeling to you in the right way. Even when you carry a stone in your pocket for four years, you feel bad when you to lose it. It’s true that, in principle, I wasn’t happy in England. Southampton didn’t want to let me go, nor did Coach Mark Hughes. But they realised I wasn’t happy and went out of their way for me, and I thank them for that. Later, after my performances at Ajax, they accused Hughes of being to blame for me not staying. But the truth is completely di erent. He acted gentlemanly, and I’m sorry that he was attacked for no real reason. The road toAjax, prior to thediversion in Southampton, had ledDušan throughDutchclubs FCGroningenandFCTwente, wherehe spent two seasons. It was actually there that the Netherlands was etched into his heart. “I loved this country from the rst day. Everything suits me – the culture, the way of life. Here everything is arranged down to the nest detail. I also know their language excellently. I copedwonderfully. And that’s one of the reasons for my success. A precondition for good results is the environment. My wife, son and daughter enjoy themselves here. Tadić developedhis footballingprowess inVojvodina. His performances for that club con rmed his visa for the Netherlands. And Dušan’s upbringing was always only accompanied by football. “Kicking around on the concrete in front of the building, I burst at least 100 balls as a kid. I awoke and fell asleep thinking about football. My idols were Predrag Mijatović, whose shirt is still preserve like a treasure, alongwith Zinedin Zidan’s. I grewcopying their moves, stealing some trick or feint from every player. I dedicated myself completely to football, and football repaid me. I am more than satis ed with my life.” We took the opportunity to ask Dušan what we mustn’t miss when visiting Amsterdam. He says through a laugh that everyonemust rst visit the home of Ajax, Johan Cruy Arena, but if that does not count, then… “First head to the museumquarter, and before all others tour theVan Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. I would also single out the waxworks museum Madame Tussauds. The number two destination is Keukenhof, one of the planet’s largest ower gardens. This is a true oasis of tranquillity; a holiday for the eyes. Colours, scents, simplywonderful... The next port of call should be the Artis Zoo. One of the most beautiful zoos I’ve seen, it is convenient because it is located in the city centre and going for coffee and refreshments there is an experience in itself. Another thing that you shouldn’t miss out on is a tour of Amsterdam’s canals by boat. That will be nourishment for your heart and soul. Finally, regardless of how ridiculous it might sound to some, I sincerely recommend riding bicycles through the city. Here they are the main vehicles in tra c [laughs]. They have their own lanes, tra c lights, everything... And they always have the right of way in tra c. After Dušan’s story, don’t you feel like booking a ight and heading to Amsterdam as soon as possible? Given that the author of this article has had the satisfaction of touring this unique city as many as ve times; a city where everyone minds their own business and everyone enjoys themselves, my recommendation is to add Amsterdam to even your shortest to-do list. iStock / Olena_Znak