Edwin van der Sar has sent Erik ten Hag off to Manchester United with his best wishes after the Ajax manager secured the Eredivisie title on Wednesday night.
Ajax sealed the title with a game to spare by thrashing by hammering Heerenveen 5-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
First-half goals from Nicolas Tagliafico, Steven Berghuis and Sebastien Haller had the hosts 3-0 up at the break and Brian Brobbey and Edson Alvarez wrapped up the emphatic win with further goals in the second half.
Ten Hag will leave Ajax following their final game of the season against Vitesse on Sunday having secured a third Eredivisie title in four completed seasons with the club.
Victory over Heerenveen was followed by celebrations on the pitch, with Ajax lifting the trophy and conducting interviews for the crowd to hear.
Ten Hag himself spoke to thank the fans and his players before Ajax chief executive – and former United goalkeeper – Van der Sar took the microphone. “Erik.. sometimes I thought ‘you are a weird man’. But you surpassed all expectations,” he began.
“Dominant football, semi-final [of the] Champions League, league titles. You will leave for a club that is close to my heart. I wish you all the best there. Thank you, Erik ten Hag!”
Ten Hag was appointed Ajax boss in December 2017 after a two-year spell in charge of Utrecht. He has won 158 out of his 214 games with the Dutch giants and claimed three Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and the Johan Cruyff Shield, as well as leading his side to the semi-finals of the Champions League in the 2018/19 season.
As Ten Hag declared on Wednesday night, he “brought a certain culture in this club. A winner’s mentality.” The interviewer then asked him if he would celebrate with some wine, to which he replied: “Yes, tonight we will party!”
Van der Sar spent six years at United, helping the club to win four Premier League titles and the Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson. While the former goalkeeper wanted to keep Ten Hag at Ajax for longer, he is happy that they are losing him to United and not a different club.
“Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer,” he said upon the news of his departure. “He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league.
“We owe Erik a lot of thanks for what he has achieved with Ajax so far, but we are not done yet. At the end of the season, I will look back more extensively on his departure. For now, what matters is the final games of the season in which we all want to bring home the league title.”