EVENTS in history don’t necessarily reverberate in the memory because of success or triumph.
Certain moments resonate due to a specific incident, a prestigious milestone, an emotional attachment or, in this case, the eminence and evolution of an opponent.
After being crowned Fourth Division champions in the 1991/92 campaign, the Clarets hosted a UEFA Cup-winning Ajax side brimming with up-and-coming stars at Turf Moor.
Among that golden generation was goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, defender Michael Reiziger and midfielder Edgar Davids. But the remainder didn’t sink in to insignificance. Louis Van Gaal’s outfit included Marciano Vink, six-time Eredivisie winner and UEFA Champions League victor Sonny Silooy, Dan Petersen, John Hansen, Michel Kreek, Rob Alflen, Alfons Groenendijk, striker Ron Willems, who went on to feature for Derby County in the Premier League, and goalscorer Ignacio Tuhuteru.
Edward Lee reported for the Burnley Express on May 19th, 1992. He wrote: The Clarets may have lost their prestigious friendly with Ajax on Tuesday. But Tuhuteru’s goal seven minutes from time did little to take the gloss off a thoroughly competent Clarets display.
Burnley, particularly in the second half, were an impressive attacking force and lacked only the final touch. Had they scored the game could have transformed as it always felt like Ajax had one more gear to move up to.”
The attendance on the evening, which saw the Clarets, led by captain John Pender, presented with their Fourth Division champions medals by Ajax vice-president Andrew Kraan, was 10,746.
It was a spectacular occasion but for that prominent trio of Dutch stars it was just the beginning of their outstanding careers. Van Der Sar went on to make more than 200 appearances for Ajax, winning the league title on four occasions as well as picking up a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup winners medal. At Juventus and Fulham he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup but it was at Manchester United where he found phenomenal success. He won four Premier League titles, the League Cup twice, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Van Der Sar was voted best European keeper twice, Dutch goalkeeper of the year four times, and UEFA club goalkeeper of the year while becoming the most capped player in the Netherlands national team history and setting a world league clean sheet record - not conceding a goal in 1,311 minutes.
Reiziger enjoyed similar success to his former team-mate while with Ajax and, after a brief spell with AC Milan, won La Liga, UEFA Super Cup and a domestic cup competition with Spanish giants Barcelona. From there he signed for Middlesbrough before returning home and winning the Eredivisie twice with PSV Eindhoven.
Davids, who enjoyed a recent spell with Crystal Palace, has featured for many of the world’s footballing elite including two spells with Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Spurs. During a decorated career, spanning almost 20 years, he was capped 74 times for Holland scoring six goals, representing his country at one World Cup and three European Championships in the process. Domestically he won three Eredivisie and Serie A titles, the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and Intertoto Cup as well as five cups in various countries. Davids was featured in the 1998 FIFA World Cup All-Star team and earned inclusion in Pele’s FIFA 100.