From the early days of Steven Pienaar and Shane Poggenpoel to current overseas stars such as Keagan Dolly and Daylon Classen, and the many, many in between, Ajax have certainly done justice to their motto of “no youth, no future”.
In the current Ajax quad, the latest prodigy to blaze a trail in the Absa Premiership with scintillating, sensational displays is the 18-year-old Grant Margeman.
On Sunday, in a crunch, must-win fixture against Platinum Stars, Margeman showed that he is a lot more than just another youngster with a bit of ability. The teenager certainly has the right stuff.
With Ajax desperately in need of a victory, to shake off their relegation fears, Margeman produced a performance worthy of the hype that surrounds him as the next big thing at the Cape club.
With just six minutes gone, he was presented with a scoring opportunity, and he was nerveless in the composed manner with which he took the chance. It was a goal that would settle the team’s nerves, release the pressure and allow Ajax to play with the confidence and freedom that would eventually pave the way to a comfortable 2-0 win.
The result took Ajax to 29 points, with four games to play, and it’s just one shy of the magical 30 which all PSL coaches agree is usually enough for survival.
“I think I had a good game, the whole technical staff was happy with the performance I gave and, to top the good performance off, I scored my third goal of the season,” said Margeman.“For a youngster coming in to the senior team, it’s never easy, but I settled in quickly and the senior players in the team are always giving me good advice on and off the field. They are always telling me to keep my head, work hard and to stay humble.”
If there’s someone who can spot young talent, it’s current Ajax head coach Stanley Menzo. Having been schooled in the Ajax Amsterdam way, he understands the importance of youth. It’s in the DNA of the top Dutch club.
Impressed with what he had seen of Margeman, Menzo handed the youngster a PSL debut earlier this season. And, just to prove how highly he values the teenager, Menzo even got permission from SA U20 coach Thabo Senong to keep the player while the rest of the junior national squad went on a training camp in the Netherlands.
It’s an indication of how important Margeman, at the tender age of 18, is to the team.The SA U20s are expected to return from Europe later this week and Margeman will then link up with the squad for the next training camp as the squad prepares to the SA U20 World Cup, scheduled for South Korea from May 20 to June 11.
“I understood the situation clearly because the coach told me that as much as he wants me to go with the U20 team, he wanted me to stay and help the Ajax team,” said the teenager.
“And that’s what I was willing to do But I’m very excited and looking forward to U20 World Cup. It’s a great stage for a youngster to showcase his talent against other quality players and I think we have a good chance of making the knockout stages. Our first game will be very important.”