As I was staying at a nearby hotel and being a huge football fan I couldn’t resist signing up for a guided tour of the Johan Cruyff Arena, the largest stadium in the Netherlands and home of famed Dutch professional football club AFC Ajax.

The stadium was previously known as the Amsterdam Arena (stylised as Amsterdam ArenA) until the current 2018–19 football season when it was officially renamed in honour of legendary Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff after his March 2016 passing. Cruyff (spelled Cruijff in Dutch) is widely considered to be among the sports greatest players winning the Ballon D’or as top player three times and helping Ajax (pronounced Eye-yacks) capture the European Champions League title four times. A proponent of what came to be called ‘total football’ Cruyff moved to FC Barcelona, managing after his playing career ended and helping to build a struggling Spanish club into one of the elite teams on the planet.

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Opened in 1996 after a three-year construction project the 55,000 seat stadium offers guided 75-minute tours daily throughout the year except for match days and concert events.  The tours include a visit to the pitch level, dressing room visit except when in use as they were during  my visit, press box high in the stands, media center where pre & post match interviews are held and the Ajax ‘Gallery of Fame’ trophy room. Tours may be confirmed online in advance for EUR 15/CAD $22 but as I was visiting in low season with tours less likely to sell-out I paid at the stadium ticket office and used a Smartsave discount coupon to save 20%.


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Football is war as our tour guide pointed out that the Mercedes seats in red & white Ajax colours the home team rest on are heated while the all-red seats reserved for the visiting team aren’t. Heated seats during cold Winter matches is one edge the home team enjoys and may make a difference between winning & losing.

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The tour includes a visit to ‘the tunnel’ which is where both teams line-up after existing their respective dressing rooms and wait to head up to the pitch to the cheers of thousands of rabid football fans.


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The press room holds the footballing media who grill team coaches and players about the match. and tour participants were invited to sit in the hot seat for photos.

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Near the end of the tour a visit is made to the Ajax ‘Gallery of Fame‘ which hold the 118-year-old football club’s impressive array of trophies and cups including its four European Champions League Cups. Ajax is only one of a trio of clubs along with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to have won the title four times.

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While my schedule didn’t synchronize with Ajax to attend a match at the Johan Cruyff Arena taking the tour is the next best thing so would highly recommend it to football fans visiting Amsterdam.