AZ Alkmaar

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This article is about the men's association football team. For the women's team, see AZ Alkmaar (women).
AZ
AZ Alkmaar.svg
Full name Alkmaar Zaanstreek
Nickname(s) The Cheese Farmers
Short name AZ
Founded 10 May 1967; 47 years ago (1967-05-10)
Ground AFAS Stadion
Alkmaar
North Holland
Netherlands
Ground Capacity 17,023
Executive director
Technical director
Toon Gerbrands
Earnie Stewart
Chairman René Neelissen
Manager Marco van Basten
League Eredivisie
2013–14 Eredivisie, 8th
Website Club home page
Current season

Alkmaar Zaanstreek ([ˈɑlkmaːr ˈzaːnstreːk]), better known as AZ Alkmaar or simply AZ (Dutch pronunciation: [aːˈzɛt]), is an association football club from Alkmaar and the Zaanstreek, Netherlands. The club plays in the Eredivisie, the highest football league in the Netherlands. It was founded in 1967 as AZ '67.

History[edit]

AZ was founded on 10 May 1967 as AZ '67, the result of a merger of Alkmaar '54 and FC Zaanstreek. FC Zaanstreek was formed in 1964, continuing the professional adventure of the Kooger Football Club (KFC). KFC had been founded in 1910, had nearly become National Champion in 1934 through a narrow loss to Ajax in the finals, and had been professional since 1955.

In 1964, the brothers Cees and Klaas Molenaar, former players for KFC and owners of a growing appliance store chain, sought to create a powerful football team in the Zaanstreek by merging the two local professional teams (KFC and ZFC). After this merger failed, they successfully merged KFC (now "FC Zaanstreek") with Alkmaar '54, though the team would be located in Alkmaar. Partially through the hiring of expensive foreign players, the new club soon acquired large debts. Fortunately in 1972 the brothers Molenaar bailed it out and invested heavily in the club, to the point that AZ '67 were successful in the late seventies and early eighties, playing European football in five of the six seasons from 1977 to 1982 and winning the Dutch Cup three times over that period.

After four near-misses, AZ finally became Dutch champions in 1981. They were the only team other than the "big three" (Ajax, Feyenoord, and PSV) to do so in a period stretching from 1965 to 2009, when AZ repeated as champions. They won the 1980–81 season with overwhelming power, winning 27 of 34 matches while losing only one, and scoring 101 goals while allowing only 30. The same season they reached the final of the UEFA Cup, losing 4:5 on aggregate to Ipswich Town. The next year in the UEFA Champions League they lost in the second round 2:3 on aggregate to Liverpool. Georg Keßler was AZ's manager over most of these years (1978–1982), while star players included Kees Kist, Jan Peters, Hugo Hovenkamp, John Metgod and Kristen Nygaard.

Things went downhill after Klaas Molenaar left the club in 1985 (Cees had died in 1979). In 1988, AZ were even relegated from the Eredivisie.

The involvement of businessman Dirk Scheringa in the mid-'90s marked the revival of the club. AZ returned to the Eredivisie in 1998. In 2004–05, they reappeared in the UEFA Cup tournament, advancing to the semi-finals. The second leg of these semis against Sporting CP had a heart-breaking ending, when Sporting scored in the 122nd minute (2 minutes into stoppage time) to reach an aggregate tie of 4:4, but to win on away goals. AZ also finished third in the Eredivisie that season, again qualifying for the UEFA Cup, after spending most of the season in the top two spots. These were remarkable achievements for a small club like AZ, which does not have a similar fanbase as their Eredivisie and European rivals: AZ's home ground until the 2006-07 season, the Alkmaarderhout, had a spectator capacity of 8,390.

In the summer of 2006, the club moved to a new 17,000 capacity stadium AZ Stadion.Club's chairman Dirk Scheringa stated in 2007 that he wished to expand the stadium capacity to 40,000 by 2010.Ultimately, the club began plans to expand the stadium to at least 30,000 seats by 2011–12.

AZ had a very good 2006–07 season, which ended, however, in disaster. Going into the last game of the 2006–07 season, AZ led PSV and Ajax by goal-differential for the Eredivisie championship, but ended up third after losing this last match against bottom-dweller Excelsior, playing with 10 men for 80 minutes. Further setbacks followed when AZ lost the KNVB Cup finals to Ajax, 8–7 in penalty kicks after a drawn game, and also lost to Ajax over two playoff games for the Champions League. After the season, key players like Tim de Cler, Danny Koevermans, and Shota Arveladze left the team.

AZ versus Larissa in a 2007–08 UEFA Cup match.

A remarkable run ended in the 2007-08 season: AZ had been undefeated in their first 32 home matches in European competitions, a sequence which ran from 1977 until 20 December 2007, when they finally lost to Everton of England by a score of 3–2. In this season, AZ performed so badly (first round loss in the KNVB Cup, elimination from the UEFA Cup before winter break and a final 11th position in the Eredivisie), that team manager Louis van Gaal felt obliged to hand in his resignation in March 2008. However, after protests from the players and direction, van Gaal withdrew his resignation to finish his contractual obligations.

The 2008–09 season had an unpromising start with two defeats against NAC Breda and ADO Den Haag. However, starting with a 1–0 victory over defending league champions PSV, the team didn't lose in the next 28 matches, including a stretch of 11 matches in which the opposing teams did not score a single goal. Three weeks before the end of the season, despite their second home defeat of the season (against Vitesse), AZ became Eredivisie champions when nearest rivals Twente and Ajax both lost their matches.AZ qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the second time, but only took four points from six matches and finished bottom of their group.

Ronald Koeman, succeeded Louis van Gaal after the 2008–09 season. Van Gaal had already left for Bayern Munich after becoming league champions with AZ. Koeman became the manager for AZ on 17 May 2009.On 5 December 2009 AZ announced that Koeman no longer was in charge of AZ, after losing 7 of the first 16 games in the Dutch competition.Former Zenit St. Petersburg manager Dick Advocaat took over for the rest of the season. Under his lead, some good results were achieved and European football was secured. For the 2010–2011 season, Gertjan Verbeek, coming from Heracles Almelo, will be the new manager.

He saw key players including Mounir El Hamdaoui, Mousa Dembélé, Jermain Lens and David Mendes da Silva leave the club. New players included young talents like Nick Viergever, Erik Falkenburg Dirk Marcellis and goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado. AZ finished the 2010/11 season in 4th place, securing Europa League football for the next season. Kolbeinn Sigþórsson ended as the clubs top scorer with 15 league goals. In the KNVB Cup AZ reached the eighth-finals, where they were beaten by rivals Ajax with 1-0. AZ reached the 3rd place in their Europa League group, thus not qualifying for the knock out round.

Again, important players left AZ before the 2011/12 season. Captain Stijn Schaars, Sigþórsson, first choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero, Héctor Moreno and Graziano Pelle left Alkmaar, while the club welcomed new players including forwards Jozy Altidore and Roy Beerens. The new captain was Niklas Moisander. Once more AZ finished in 4th place in the league, but they performed significantly better in cup competitions, reaching the semi-finals in the national cup and the quarter-finals in the Europa League. Altidore became the top scorer for AZ with 15 goals. On 21 December, during the eighth-finals of the KNVB Cup, a 19 year old Ajax fan entered the pitch in the 36th minute, with the score 1-0 for Ajax, attacking AZ goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado. The fan slipped and Alvarado kicked the fan twice, which led to the goalkeeper being sent off. Following this, Gertjan Verbeek ordered his players to leave the pitch for the dressing room in protest. Later, the match was played again on 19 January 2012, with Alvarado's red card rescinded. AZ won the match with 3-2.

After the departure of captains Niklas Moisander and Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens was named the new captain for the 2012/13 season. Other notable players to leave the club were Simon Poulsen and Brett Holman. Steven Berghuis, Viktor Elm (Rasmus Elms brother) and Markus Henriksen were amongst the new players. The season had a bad start, as AZ was eliminated from the Europa League in the playoff round by Guus Hiddinks FC Anzhi Makhachkala. In the league things didn't go as well as expected, with AZ ending in 10th place. Eventually the season ended well for AZ as they won the KNVB Cup after beating PSV with 2-1 in the final, after two early goals by Adam Maher and Jozy Altidore. By winning the cup, AZ qualified for Europa League football after all. The success led to the record transfers of Altidore and Maher for respectively 10 million and 8 million.

Current squad[edit]

As of 23 May 2014

For recent transfers, see List of Dutch football transfers winter 2013–14

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Costa Rica GK Esteban Alvarado
2 Sweden DF Mattias Johansson
3 Netherlands DF Jeffrey Gouweleeuw
4 Finland DF Thomas Lam
5 Netherlands MF Donny Gorter
6 Paraguay MF Celso Ortiz
7 Netherlands FW Guus Hupperts
8 Serbia MF Nemanja Gudelj (captain)
9 United States FW Aron Jóhannsson
10 Cameroon MF Willie Overtoom
11 Sweden FW Muamer Tanković
12 Sweden MF Viktor Elm
14 Netherlands DF Wesley Hoedt
15 Denmark DF Simon Poulsen
16 Belgium GK Yves De Winter
No. Position Player
17 Netherlands DF Djavan Anderson
18 Netherlands FW Mikhail Rosheuvel
19 Norway MF Markus Henriksen
21 Uruguay GK Sergio Rochet
22 Netherlands FW Steven Berghuis
23 Netherlands FW Fernando Lewis
24 Netherlands MF Thom Haye
25 Netherlands MF Joris van Overeem
27 Australia FW Eli Babalj
29 Belgium DF Jan Wuytens
30 Netherlands DF Ridgeciano Haps
36 Netherlands MF Dabney dos Santos Souza
37 Netherlands GK Nick Olij
39 Netherlands DF Derrick Luckassen
44 Sweden FW Denni Avdić

Stadium and sponsor[edit]

See also: AFAS Stadion
AFAS Stadion, AZ's home venue in Alkmaar

AZ play their home games at the AFAS Stadion, located in the southern part of the city of Alkmaar. The stadium, which is owned directly by the club, was inaugurated in 2006 and replaced the old Alkmaarderhout venue as the DSB Stadion. The stadium currently has a capacity of 17,023. During its design stages the name Victorie Stadion was frequently used, referring to the Dutch War of Independence, the phrase "n Alkmaar begint de victorie" (Victory begins in Alkmaar) in particular. Until now, this name hasn't been officially in use, the board instead opting for sponsorship deals because of financial motives. However, to this day the name maintains a good share of support among the fans.

In order to further grow the club's budget, the AZ board of directors has decided to extend the capacity of the new stadium to a minimum of 30,000 seated spectators somewhere in the near future. The extension will be realised to construct a second tier to three of the four stands. The main stand with all technical areas, VIP and sponsor and media facilities will remain in place.

In October 2009 sponsor DSB Bank was declared bankrupt. The stadium name temporarily changed from DSB Stadion to AZ Stadion, as it was considered undesirable that the stadium was linked with a non-existent bank. In February 2010 a new main sponsor was found: construction works service provider BUKO from Beverwijk.

A year later, in the season 2010–11, AFAS Erp Software took over as official shirt sponsor, also taking over duties as stadium sponsor. The current external name of the ground is AFAS Stadion.

Trivia[edit]

As of 2012, AZ is the only club to have beaten Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV away from home in a single Eredivisie season. sc Heerenveen managed to do the same in 2008–09, though their away victory at Feyenoord was a KNVB Cup match (Heerenveen had drawn 2–2 at De Kuip in the Eredivisie match).

Honours[edit]

National[edit]

AZ Eredivisie Results 1976 to 2009

International[edit]

1 As Alkmaar '54

AZ in Europe[edit]

Below is a table with AZ's international results in the past seasons.

Domestic results[edit]

Below is a table with AZ's domestic results since the introduction of professional football in 1956.

Notable players[edit]

See also Category:AZ Alkmaar players.

Managers[edit]

Alkmaar '54[edit]

AZ '67[edit]

AZ[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/news/newsid=2075981.html

External links[edit]