Van Gaal's finest hour
As Louis van Gaal is confirmed as the new manager of Manchester United, take a look back at the Dutchman's finest hour, winning the 1995 Champions League final with Ajax. We have video highlights, an in-depth review and the memories of Sky Sports' Martin Tyler
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @PeteFraser_
Last Updated: 19/05/14 2:39pm
The sight of an animated Louis van Gaal leaping around the touchline at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion gave an indication of the magnitude of the 1995 UEFA Champions League final for Ajax. This was the year when the kids proved their class.
An 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert, who has been a member of Van Gaal's coaching staff with the Netherlands, won the game for an Ajax side with an average age of just 23. The striker's 84th minute goal secured a 1-0 win in Vienna as the Dutch club again stunned Fabio Capello's defending champions, AC Milan, having already beaten them home and away in the group stages.
It was an immense achievement for Van Gaal, his diamond formation and a team mixed of established greats, such as ex-Milan man Frank Rijkaard, and soon-to-be stars Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen, Marc Overmars, brothers Frank and Ronald de Boer and substitute Nwankwo Kanu.
However, Van Gaal would later reflect: "Well, I was not surprised. I had said we could win it before the 1994/95 season started. Just as I refuse to believe a Dutch club will never win the Champions League again, as some people claim. That is ridiculous!"
Not only was the 1995 final an engrossing game of tactics but it also marked a changing era in European football as an Academy-sourced Ajax returned to power. In contrast, it would be the last time for eight seasons the dominant force of Milan would reach a Champions League final.
The match is also remembered for those Van Gaal antics on the sidelines, where, enraged by referee Ion Craciunescu's refusal to award a free-kick for a head-high Marcel Desailly challenge on Litmanen, the manager mimicked the on-field action by performing an eye-catching karate-kick.
But Kluivert's goal, 14 minutes after he entered the game as a substitute, will be many people's lasting memory. He received a pass from Rijkaard, squeezed between Milan captain Franco Baresi and Zvonimir Boban and poked a left-footed finish past goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi. At 18 years and 327 days, he was, and is, the youngest player to have scored in a Champions League final.
Kluivert went on to join Milan in 1997 and has said of his goal: "I think about that moment a lot. It was the turning point for a teenager who was on the periphery. It without a doubt changed things for me greatly."
Ajax would again reach the final in 1996 but they lost on penalties to Juventus and their young squad began to join other European clubs on their respective roads to superstardom. The 1995 Champions League win remains Van Gaal's finest hour.
"I did this game for Australian broadcaster SBS in Vienna, which is always an interesting city to visit. But you have to try to keep off the chocolate cakes (which are the best in the world)! The match was quite a romantic story, because Ajax were beginning to feel the pinch of their production-line players moving on to other clubs. But they still managed to beat a side who had won the trophy so comprehensively the year before. However, former Milan player Rijkaard set up the winning goal for Kluivert so two generations combined, which was special. As for Milan, they were the holders and it started the run of sides being unable to retain the Champions League - a statistic that remains to this day."