Johan Cruyff Arena: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating in Amsterdam

Martin Tyler recalls a raging Sir Alex Ferguson and some Diego Maradona magic

Around the grounds with Martin Tyler
Image: Martin Tyler remembers some disappointing moments for Michael Ricketts, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney in Amsterdam

At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.

This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at some grounds across Europe. Today, he takes us on a trip to the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam...

Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.

preview image 0:19
Take a look at today's teaser from Martin Tyler, involving players from the Netherlands. Scroll down for the answer.

How I travel there

My choice is to stay at an airport hotel, hire a car and then use the motorways to get from the airport to the stadium.

What it's like to commentate there

Television was well-catered for when the stadium was built for its 1996 opening. You have to learn to find your way around it though. Specific staircases go to specific levels and if you get it wrong you could end up seeing where you should be without being able to get to it.

Emirates Stadium | Villa Park | Vitality Stadium | Amex Stadium | Turf Moor | Stamford Bridge | Selhurst Park | Goodison Park | King Power Stadium | Anfield | Etihad Stadium | Old Trafford | St James' Park | Carrow Road | Bramall Lane | St Mary's | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Vicarage Road | London Stadium | Molineux

Did you know?

It was the first European football ground with a retractable roof. The pitch had to be replaced several times a season at the outset, problems that were eventually solved by improved technology.

Also See:

My memories of the ground

I commentated for Sky Sports on a spectacular Darius Vassell goal on his England debut in a World Cup warm-up game in 2002, a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands.

It got the Aston Villa striker into the squad for Japan and South Korea in the summer, but another international career was all over in 45 minutes that evening in Amsterdam. Michael Ricketts also won his first cap but it turned out to also be his last. The Bolton striker was taken off at half-time.

For almost a decade, Sky Sports covered the pre-season Amsterdam Tournament, a four-team competition based around the host club Ajax and invariably including a Premier League team. Arsenal won it three times in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Wayne Rooney is sent off during a pre-season match against Porto
Image: Wayne Rooney is sent off during a pre-season match against Porto

In between was another English success, for Manchester United but it was mired in controversy. Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes were both sent off by a Dutch referee in a game against Porto. Red cards were rarely seen in pre-season games when a match official is more likely to suggest a player behaving badly is substituted rather than dismissed.

As you might expect Sir Alex Ferguson was furious, vowed that United would never take part in the Amsterdam Tournament again and was as good as his word. His mood would only have worsened when he later learned that both players would also have to serve a domestic suspension when the season proper got underway.

But the most notable memory happened the previous year, after Arsenal had actually lifted the trophy. Diego Maradona was in the Arena as part of the Boca Juniors contingent at the tournament, though his playing days were over. The television crew were all packing up their gear, which they usually do as quickly as possible. But even the least football-minded technician stopped to watch when Maradona wandered out on the pitch with only a football for company.

The great Argentine then went through a display of skills which included extravagant keepy-uppies with each touch sending the ball up as high as the top tier of the stands. It was spell-binding. Pre-season matches do not as a rule live long in the memory but I will never forget what Diego did in Amsterdam when he had the stage to himself.

What I like about this ground

It is a stadium worthy of the history of a tremendous football club. The previous De Meer ground was small and some of the big Ajax European games were switched to Amsterdam's Olympic Stadium.

The Arena, now forever linked the footballing genius that was Johan Cruyff, is a proper home.

preview image 0:40
Take a look at the answer to Martin Tyler's Netherlands teaser.
Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Opt in and bet £25 or more before 23:59 on Sunday. Free bets credited by 7pm on Monday.

Around Sky