THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ajax winger Piet Keizer, part of the front line that took the Amsterdam team to the summit of world club football in the early 1970s, has died at age 73, the club announced Saturday.
Together with his late teammate Johan Cruyff, Keizer’s attacking flair led Ajax to three straight titles in the European Cup, the predecessor of the Champions League, from 1971-73.
In a statement, Ajax called the left winger a club icon who scored 189 goals in 490 matches for the Amsterdam powerhouse in a career that spanned the 1960s and 1970s. Keizer played 34 internationals for the Netherlands, but his career was winding down as the Cruyff-led Dutch “Clockwork Orange” team was at its height. Keizer was on the bench as the Netherlands lost 2-1 to West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final.
Current Netherlands coach Danny Blind paid tribute to Keizer, saying the winger had a purely attacking mindset and “saw football as a sport that should offer something attractive. Football had to be beautiful and enjoyable.”
One of Keizer’s most memorable performances came in the 1971 European Cup final, when he provided the inch-perfect cross from the left for Dick van Dijk to head in the opening goal in Ajax’s 2-0 defeat of Panathinaikos at London’s Wembley stadium.
“With the death of Piet, we lose one of the greatest Ajax players of all time,” former Ajax and Netherlands goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said in a statement on behalf of the Amsterdam club’s directors. “He won everything there was to win and played a significant role in all those national and international prizes.”
Keizer’s exact cause of death and funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
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