Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen has claimed that his former club Ajax train players to be mentally tough from from the young age of six, ahead of the Champions League semi-final clash between the two clubs.
Ajax was Vertonghen's first professional club, he made 220 appearances for the Dutch side from 2006 until he eventually joined Tottenham in 2012.
The Eredivisie side have surpassed all expectations this year by reaching the tournament's semi-finals, knocking out the reigning Champions League title holders Real Madrid and Serie A champions Juventus with a side featuring several academy graduates.
Vertonghen progressed from Ajax's academy to the first team and said that one of the reasons why the Dutch club has been so successful is because their players are taught to deal with high expectations from a young age.
"Always when you're six or seven years old, you start and you're in the best team in the league. Always," he said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
"You have to dominate away from home. A draw is never enough. A win is never enough. You always have to win in a certain way. That's what you're seeing right now.
"They are hungry. They are ready. They are fearless.They feel the support from the academy and they've got confidence in their qualities."
Vertonghen claimed that he is looking forward to the tie, adding: "It will be extremely special. When we moved into the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, I did not expect us to play against each other, but it will be very special."
The first leg of the Champions League semi-final between the sides will take place at 8pm on Tuesday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the return leg at the Johan Cruyff ArenA next Wednesday.
Source : 90min