When a friend handed Jordie van der Laan a ticket for the first leg of Ajax’s Uefa Champions League semi-final against Spurs last week, the temptation was too great.
Van der Laan, a 25-year-old striker with second-tier club Telstar, decided to travel to London.
“I just called in sick and of course it wasn’t the best decision. In the end someone found out,” he told the BBC.
The club decided to terminate his contract by mutual consent.
“He tricked us,” complained technical director Piet Buter.
“In all he was away from the club for four days. At our request to go to the club doctor he reacted by saying he had an appointment with his GP,” he told a local paper. “The next day his excuse was that he was in bed with a fever.”
Van der Laan was not the only Ajax fan who failed to show up to work last week. A Dutch reporter was slapped by a supporter outside the Spurs ground, apparently because he was angry that fans who had called in sick were being filmed.
‘My team’s group-chat exploded’
No-one realised Van der Laan had flown to London last Tuesday to see Ajax beat Spurs 1-0, to set up a tantalising second leg at the Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
And initial reports said that friends and colleagues only found out when they saw his face appear three times during TV coverage of the match.
Donny van de Beek’s away goal at Spurs gave Ajax the advantage ahead of the semi-final second leg on Wednesday night
“My team’s group-chat exploded. They fell about laughing,” he was quoted as saying by the Volkskrant newspaper. Friends spotted him on TV from as far afield as Denmark and Mexico.
But Telstar trainer Mike Snoei had already suspected something was up and when he said he wanted to visit Van der Laan, the player admitted he was on his way to see Ajax.
Van der Laan said Telstar’s season was as good as over and as he had not been selected for some time his chances of playing in the next match against Young PSV the coming Friday were thin.
“I hadn’t expected it would get so out of hand. I didn’t show up for training on Tuesday and it got noticed. But in my discussion with Telstar it was agreed it wouldn’t get out,” he told local broadcaster Omroep Brabant.
Telstar were unimpressed.
“The trainer said it was incredibly stupid of me, and with one more game ahead he decided it was best to terminate my contract,” he told the Volkskrant.
What about the second leg?
Not to be downhearted, Van der Laan was keen to look forward to Ajax’s return match in Amsterdam, after their victory at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
On Monday the player tweeted: “So don’t I deserve a ticket for Wednesday’s match now? After all I am free, aren’t I?”
Journalist Menno Pot responded with an offer of a free ticket in return for a round of beer.
So the former Telstar footballer will go to the game.
His former club has decided not to take legal action – as long as he does not make it look like Telstar was to blame. BBC Sports