The 22 debutants from the Ajax youth under Ten Hag

Liam van Gelderen was allowed to make his debut for Ajax against NEC last Saturday. He is not the first young Ajax player to van Erik ten Hag can prove in the ‘big’ Ajax. Which Ajax players made their first official minutes under the departing coach?

The first debutant from the youth of Ajax under Ten Hag was Noussair Mazraoui. In the third game that Ten Hag was at the helm, Mazraoui was allowed to make his first minutes at the age of twenty during the duel with NAC Breda. There were not many minutes, however, Mazraoui came in for David Neres in the 89th minute.

In addition to Mazraoui, three other Ajax players were given the opportunity to taste minutes in the main squad during the first half season that Ten Hag was in charge. For example, Dani de Wit was allowed to participate for five minutes against ADO Den Haag and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp was able to make the first minutes at home against VVV-Venlo at the age of eighteen. The last Ajax player to make his debut that season was Azor Matusiwa. He was even allowed to make quite a few first minutes from Ten Hag, as the midfielder was immediately in the starting lineup on his debut against Excelsior.

Season 2018/19

The first debutant of the 2018/19 season was Kaj Sierhuis. The striker was allowed to fill in in the preliminary round of the Champions League during the home game against Sturm Graz. A few weeks later, Sierhuis was also allowed to make his debut in the Eredivisie. He was in the starting line-up during the opening game of the season against Heracles Almelo.

In that same season, Ten Hag let Ajax’s youngest debutant ever make his debut. Ryan Gravenberch was 16 years and 130 days old and was able to prepare for his debut in Eindhoven against PSV. He was 111 days younger than Clarence Seedorf during his debut. Gravenberch was the first debutant under Ten Hag to lose his debut match. Ajax then went down 3-0 in Eindhoven.

In the won cup match against HVV Te Werve, two Ajax players were allowed to make their debut in the main squad of the team from Amsterdam. Mitchel Bakker started the duel with the amateurs in the base and also completed the full ninety minutes. Noa Lang came in for David Neres after the break and played the entire second half.

Season 2019/20

During the match for the Johan Cruijff Scale at the start of the season, Sergiño Dest was allowed to start against PSV after a good preparation. Dest played the full ninety minutes. His debut in the Eredivisie followed a week later against FC Emmen. In the cup match against Telstar, Sontje Hansen came in in the 88th minute, making his official debut for Ajax. Four days later, he also made his debut in the competition, during the 6-1 victory against ADO Den Haag.

In the next round of the KNVB Cup against SV Spakenburg, another Ajax player was allowed to make his debut. Naci Ünüvar came on fifteen minutes before the end of the game and even scored 7-0 via a penalty. This put him on a nice list of Ajax players who scored during the debut. With Johan Cruijff, Patrick Kluivert and Marco van Basten, among others.

During the competition match with Heracles that season, Danilo was also allowed to make his first minutes. The Brazilian came in twenty minutes before time in the lost game against the Almelo team. Jurriën Timber was the last debutant who was allowed to make minutes that season. During the last game of the season, which ended early in March due to the corona measures, the then eighteen-year-old Timber was in the base. After 88 minutes he was replaced by Ten Hag.

Season 2020/21

Last season a number of young Ajax players were allowed to make their debut in the main squad. Brian Brobbey was the first player to get a taste of minutes in the first that season. During the 5-2 victory over Fortuna Sittard, he came on in the 66th minute and scored his first goal eight minutes later.

Devyne Rensch was also allowed to make his debut that season. As a seventeen-year-old youngster, he came in twenty minutes before time during the competition match with FC Emmen. During the 4-0 victory over PEC Zwolle, even two Ajax players were allowed to make their debut. Both Kenneth Taylor and Victor Jensen could count on their first minutes in the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Season 2021/22

This season is not over yet, but so far four players have made their first minutes. During the cup match with BVV Barendrecht, three of them were able to shine for the first time in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. After the break, Youri Regeer was the first to fill in. Fifteen minutes before the end of the game, Amourrichio van Axel Dongen also prepared to make his debut. And ten minutes before the end, Kristian Hlynsson was also allowed to enter the field. The latter scored just like Ünüvar and Brobbey under Ten Hag during his debut.

The last debutant of Ten Hag at the moment is therefore Liam van Gelderen. He came in against NEC last Saturday after Perr Schuurs was injured before half time. With Van Gelderen added, the total number of players from the youth academy that Ten Hag has made their debut with now comes to 22.

The 22 youth debutants:

Noussair Mazraoui
Dani de Wit
Jurgen Ekkelenkamp
Azor Matusiwa
Kaj Sierhuis
Ryan Gravenberch
Mitchell Bakker
Noa Lang
Sergino Desto
Sontje Hansen
Naci Ünuvar
Jurrien Timber
Brian Brobbey
Devyne Rensch
Kenneth Taylor
Victor Jensen
Youri Rule
Amourrichio by Axel Dongen
Kristian Hlynsson
Liam van Gelderen

Bas Velzel (Twitter: @BasVelzel † email: