Jay-Jay Willems and Johann Cryuff have something in common. Both have worn Ajax’s famous No. 9 jersey.
Willems, a chronically-ill, eight-year-old from the Netherlands, recently enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience, thanks to his favorite soccer team, the AFC Ajax. The four-time European champion “signed” Willems and made him part of the team ahead of its Dec. 6 Eredivisie (Dutch first division) game against NAC Breda, the Mail reports.
In the spirit that brought Bat Kid to the world’s attention last month, Ajax teamed up with a local charity called Opkikker Foundation to bring Willems’ dreams come to life.
The Ajax Foundation produced a 90-second video in which Willems tours Ajax’s stadium, impresses coaches during a pick-up game with some first-team players and earns himself a place on the team. It gets even better.
Willems then joins Ajax manager Frank de Boer for a press conference. De Boer, an eight-time Eredivise winner as an Ajax player and manager, praises Willems’ skills in front of the assembled media.
“I would like to introduce a new player,” de Boer says. “Jay-Jay is a left forward and during training he got our attention. With his qualities we think he eventually can play with the first team.”
Analysts on Dutch television channel FOX News also contribute to Willems’ story.
“Look at this guy from Ajax,” one says. “Jay-Jay is a fast, smart, roguish player. He knows a lot about football, you can see that in the way he moves. Pay attention to this little guy, another hero is born at Ajax, Jay-Jay Willems.”
Willems’ story crescendos on gameday. Like the Dutch legend Cruyff, Willems puts on the No. 9 jersey and takes the field with his new teammates. The capacity crowd of over 50,000 cheers him on as he ceremonially kicks off the game, which Ajax won 4-0.
If you liked Bat Kid’s story, you’ll enjoy Willems’ as well.
See Willems’ Ajax story in the video below.
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