At 17, This Defender’s Debut Was A Miracle. In 4 Minutes He Sparked A Title Run.

Ajax weren’t in crisis during Jairo Riedewald’s debut, just in danger of stumbling at a critical point. They had botched some critical games at the beginning of the season, but had turned things around with a 5-game winning streak that had seen them move from 6th to 2nd. Finally within striking distance of first place Vitesse – an Ajax win and Vitesse loss would see Ajax clear into first place, while a win and a tie would have Ajax in first place on goal differential – Ajax found itself down 1-0 to 14th place Roda JC. They were in danger of missing out on first place yet again. That is what Riedewald walked into: a choke job in progress.

The 17-year-old did nothing less than the unexpected. He was playing in his first game for a club that wasn’t just successful, but the face of the entire Dutch first division. He was a centre-back, subbed in for a defensive midfielder, in a game in which goals needed to be scored. How coach Frank de Boer thought that Riedewald could save the game when he subbed him on in the 80th minute, no one knows, but that is what Riedewald did. And he did it in the most dramatic way possible.

Riedewald scored the equalizing goal in the 88th minute and the winning goal in the 92nd. He saved Ajax at the age of 17, away from home in front of 18,000 spectators, at a time when many players shy away from the responsibility of winning. 

The win propelled Ajax to the Dutch first division title. Vitesse drew 1-1 against Heracles Almelo later that day, allowing Ajax to leap into first. Ajax didn’t lost a single league game for the rest of the season.

Jairo Riedewald’s debut, defending

Photo: @tubantia | Twitter

As for Riedewald, he came back down to earth after a debut that might as well have been sent down from heaven. He only made four more league appearances for the senior first team that year. It takes more than a 1-in-a-million debut to solidify a spot, but Riedewald has something under his belt that many players would kill for: a miracle.

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