David Moyes has – or at least had, according to this 2001 article – an Ajax shirt at home.
When it comes to the Dutch club, one number stands above all others – the 14 made famous by Johan Cruyff – and Moyes’s shirt, procured after a European Cup game in 1982, bears those sacred digits.
It is true that Cruyff was allowed to wear 14 as a starter when Ajax were winning European Cups in the early 1970s:
One would think, having been in close proximity to Cruyff for the first game and trying to stop him from scoring, Moyes might have taken note of what number he was, but instead he laboured under the assumption that the number 14 shirt was Cruyff’s for almost 20 years. When he was informed of which unused sub had actually had it, it did soften the blow, though:
In those days, teams were simply numbered 1 to 11. I wanted Cruyff’s shirt, but had to make do with swapping with one of the young Ajax subs. It was number 14, which is Cruyff’s fabled number.
For years, I thought it was his until six months ago a team-mate, Danny Crainie, sent me the match programme. I looked down to see who number 14 was and found van Basten’s name. I am even more proud now and if I get the chance, I’ll get him to sign it.
From reading that, quite how the misunderstanding arose is beyond us, given that he knew he was swapping with a sub. In a Times column from earlier this year, though, a clearer picture was painted, revealing that it was actually the away leg:
I was a substitute in the second leg, when we went to Amsterdam and shocked Ajax by defeating them 2-1 through a last-minute goal from George McCluskey. We had all wanted to swap shirts with the Ajax players and of course get Cruyff’s jersey, but they were so disappointed at the result that they walked straight off the pitch and into their dressing room.
After celebrating with our supporters, we followed them off and a few of us went and stood outside Ajax’s door. I think our kit man spoke to their kit man and we took off our shirts. Our kit man would throw a shirt in and theirs would throw a shirt out and the Ajax jersey handed to me was number 14. I thought “Fantastic.” But then I realised that it wasn’t Cruyff’s jersey at all — in Europe the starting players had to wear 1-11. That didn’t stop me framing the shirt and putting it on my wall and, for a long time, if visitors thought it was Cruyff’s I would let them carry on thinking that.
Then, six or seven years ago, somebody sent me a programme from the game. It listed the Ajax players and the number 14? It turned out to belong to a young substitute by the name of Marco van Basten. So I wasn’t too disappointed in the end. The shirt is still hanging up in the house.
We’re as yet uneducated as to whether he got van Basten to sign it in the interim.