March 24, 2019
Nice - Ajax: We leave as good friends
On Saturday, a team of former Aiglons drew (2-2) with Ajax, in the second installment of the match in memory of Dick Van Dijk.
Le Gym’s training complex was filled with Dutch accents on Saturday, as former Ajax players came to visit their Nice counterparts. It was just after midday when the Dutch team boarded the first-team bus to head to the home of the Red and Blacks. In the first-team’s canteen, the Niçois and the Dutch side met for lunch, an opportunity for the visitors to sample the local cuisine.
Local traditions too, with former Aiglons taking part in an intense game of pétanque, which Ronald De Boer (more than 200 appearances for Ajax) took part in. “Do they play over there?“, smiled Yohann Orazietti in front of the Dutch native, who fought toe for toe with the men from the Côte. The ends flew by and laughter filled the air, before a tour of the training ground ended a fantastic start to the afternoon.
Spectators then players
A few hundred meters away, the Stade Francs-Archers was full of fans watching Le Gym’s U19s. In the middle of the good crowd, the former Aiglons watched the new generation play with real passion. “We don’t do that any more”, they laughed as their own kick-off approached. Led by a motivated Cubilier, they headed into the dressing rooms to pull on the Red and Black shirt, “our colours, our DNA”, proudly delighted Patrice Alberganti.
“It’s this love of the club that brings us all here, and we want to thank OGC Nice, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. The same for our partners, Chevron Villette, Etude Lotte Gallo Immobilier, Chez Papa, EF-Europe Formation Conseil, AXA Agence Taddei, Maison06.com, CAFPI, SmartEar, Comptoir 233, Heaven Travel and Isaia Group.”
It’s on the bench that the President of the Association started the encounter. A decision by Coach Sérafin that the ex-midfielder responded to with humour: “We nearly fight nowadays to be on the bench!” José Cobos is, of course, on the pitch, starting and wears the captain’s armband. It is, in fact, Cobos that leads the team warm-up, just before the kick-off signaled by Frédéric Arnault, the former international referee.
United for Van Dijk
From the beginning of the game, Pablito Rodriguez came into his own, even though De Boer up against him was equally effective. It was even his side who took the lead before half-time, with two goals scored one after the other. A knock for Les Aiglons, but Jean Sérafin wasn’t finished…
After half-time, the former Aiglons attacked. Two penalties - given away by Calatraba and Gallo- were scored calmly by Marco Di Costanzo and they were back on level terms, to the delight of the fans in the stands. Amongst these fans, Matita Van Dijk, Dick’s daughter (Niçois from 1972 to 1974), enjoyed the show. “The first installment, in 2017, was commemorating the 20th anniversary of her father, she explained. I am happy to see that this match has also been able to reunite so many former players.”
On the pitch, Mr. Arnault blew his whistle, the score didn’t move and the twenty two players embraced. “Van Dijk made his mark on the club, explained José Cobos, we had to put in a performance worthy of his name and to honour the person that allowed Nice to play on the European stage.”