Alkmaar Zaanstreek (Dutch: [ˈɑl(ə)kmaːr ˈzaːnstreːk]), better known internationally as AZ Alkmaar, or simply and most commonly as AZ (pronounced [aːˈzɛt]) in the Netherlands, is a Dutch professional football club from Alkmaar and the Zaan district. The club plays in the Eredivisie, the highest professional football league in the Netherlands.
|Full name||Alkmaar Zaanstreek|
De Kaasboeren (The Cheese Farmers)
|Founded||10 May 1967|
|Executive director |
|Robert Eenhoorn |
|Head coach||Pascal Jansen|
|2022–23||Eredivisie, 4th of 18|
AZ won the Eredivisie in 1980–81 and 2008–09. In the same season as their first league title, they also reached the UEFA Cup Final, which they lost to Ipswich Town. The team has won the KNVB Cup on four occasions, and one Johan Cruyff Shield.
1910–1972: foundation and first years edit
AZ was founded on 10 May 1967 as AZ '67, the result of a merger of Alkmaar '54 and FC Zaanstreek. Alkmaar '54 was founded as a professional team in April 1954 to play in the 10-team NBVB league, created because the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) refused to organize a professional league (the KNVB took over in 1955). Alkmaar '54, and by extension AZ, played the very first professional match in the Netherlands: on 14 August 1954, they won 3–0 at home against Venlo '54, with Klaas Smit scoring the first and third goal. After winning the Eerste Divisie in 1960–61, it played one year in the Eredivisie.
FC Zaanstreek had been playing since 1910 as the Kooger Football Club (KFC). KFC had nearly become national champion in 1934 through a narrow loss to Ajax in the finals.[note 1] The team became professional in 1955. In 1964 the professional part of KFC was renamed FC Zaanstreek, while the amateurs played on as KFC.
Also in 1964, the brothers Cees and Klaas Molenaar, former players and trainers for KFC and owners of a growing appliance store chain, sought to create a powerful football team in Zaanstreek by merging the two local professional teams: KFC and Zaanlandsche Football Club. After the ZFC leadership thwarted this attempt, the Molenaars successfully merged FC Zaanstreek with Alkmaar '54 in 1967. FC Zaanstreek had finished 7th and Alkmaar '54 12th in 1966–67 Eerste Divisie. The team would be based in Alkmaar, though the second team originally trained and played in Koog aan de Zaan.
1972–1985: the Molenaar years edit
Partially through the hiring of expensive foreign players, the new club soon acquired large debts. In 1972, the Molenaar brothers bailed it out and invested heavily in the club, to the point that AZ '67 were successful in the late 1970s and early '80s, regularly playing European football from 1977 to 1982 while also winning three KNVB Cups over that period.
After four close league campaigns, AZ finally became Dutch champions in 1981, becoming the only team other than the "big three" of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV to do so in a 44-year period spanning from 1965 to 2009 (when AZ once again won the league title). They won the title with overwhelming power, winning 27 of 34 matches and only losing once, while scoring a club record 101 goals and conceding just 30. That same season, AZ reached the final of the UEFA Cup, losing 5–4 on aggregate to Ipswich Town. The next year, in the European Cup, they lost in the second round 3–2 on aggregate to Liverpool.
Georg Keßler was AZ's manager over most of these years (1978–82), while star players included: Kees Kist, the club's highest ever goalscorer with 212 goals and the first ever Dutchman to win the European Golden Boot in 1979 when he scored 34 goals in a season; Jan Peters, who played 120 matches for AZ during this period scoring 30 goals from midfield; and Hugo Hovenkamp, who played 239 matches in defence for AZ from 1975 to 1983, as well as receiving 31 caps for the Netherlands national team from 1977 to 1983 and playing each match in UEFA Euro 1980 while an AZ player. Additional stars included John Metgod, who spent six years at AZ playing 195 matches as a defender, scoring 26 goals including a goal against Ipswich Town in the final of the UEFA Cup. Like Hovenkamp, Metgod was also included in the Dutch squad for Euro 1980. Meanwhile, Danish forward Kristen Nygaard spent ten years at AZ, scoring 104 goals in 363 matches between 1972 and 1982.
1985–1993: the interim years edit
Co-owner Cees Molenaar died in 1979. AZ's fortunes deteriorated after his brother, Klaas Molenaar, left the club in 1985. After several mid-table finishes in previous seasons, AZ was relegated in 1988 from the Eredivisie, ending the season on 28 points from 34 matches and falling to the Eerste Divisie due to the superior goal difference of Roda JC. This relegation was significant since it occurred just seven years after the club's historic domestic double and marked the end of AZ's first period of success in Dutch football. Following this, AZ spent much of the next decade in the second tier, struggling to find a return to the top flight.
1993–2009: the Scheringa years edit
The involvement of businessman Dirk Scheringa in the mid-1990s marked the revival of the club as AZ returned to the Eredivisie, winning the 1997-98 Eerste Divisie title. The club achieved consecutive finishes around the middle positions in the league until ending up in third place in the 2004-05 Eredivisie season, AZ's highest position for 23 years. In the summer of 2006, the club moved to a new 17,000 capacity stadium, AZ Stadion.
Despite playing strongly for the majority of the 2006–07 season, AZ's season ended in disappointment. First, entering the last matchday of the 2006–07 Eredivisie season, AZ led PSV and Ajax on goal difference at the top of the league table, but ended up third after losing their last match against 16th placed team Excelsior, AZ played with ten men for 80 minutes. Additionally, AZ then lost the KNVB Cup final to Ajax 8–7 after a penalty shoot-out, while also falling to Ajax over two play-off matches for participation in the Champions League. After the season, key players like Tim de Cler, Danny Koevermans and Shota Arveladze left the team.
A remarkable run ended in the 2007–08 season: after AZ lost a group stage match against Everton (3–2) in the UEFA Cup, the club's unbeaten run of 32 home matches in European competitions – lasting from 1977 to 2007 – ended. AZ had a poor season, suffering elimination in the first round of the KNVB Cup and the group stage of the UEFA Cup, as well as finishing the 2007–08 Eredivisie in a disappointing 11th place. Towards the latter stages of the season, in March 2008, AZ manager Louis van Gaal had initially tendered his resignation, but after protests the players and directors, he rescinded his resignation.
The 2008–09 season had an unpromising start after two opening defeats against NAC Breda and ADO Den Haag. However, starting with a 1–0 victory over defending league champions PSV, AZ did not lose a match in its next 28 matches, including a run of 11-straight matches where AZ did not concede an opposition goal. Three weeks before the end of the season, AZ became Eredivisie champions, edging nearest title rivals Twente and Ajax comfortably. This was a historic achievement for the club as this was the first title-winning season for 28 years, and it also meant a return to the UEFA Champions League.
Being league champions, AZ qualified for the Champions League for only the second time. It was drawn into a group alongside Arsenal FC, Standard Liège and Olympiacos but only took four points from six matches and finished bottom of their group.
2009–2014: Advocaat–Verbeek years edit
For the 2009–10 season, Ronald Koeman succeeded Louis van Gaal, who had departed to manage Bayern Munich after leading AZ to the championship. Koeman was officially hired on 17 May 2009, but on 5 December, AZ announced he was no longer in charge of the club after losing 7 of his first 16 matches. Former Rangers and Zenit Saint Petersburg manager Dick Advocaat took over for the remainder of the season. Under Advocaat, AZ achieved solid results and secured European football for the next season.
For the 2010–11 season, AZ appointed Gertjan Verbeek as its new manager. They finished the 2010–11 Eredivisie in fourth place, thus securing Europa League football for the next season, while in the KNVB Cup, AZ reached the last eight, where they were beaten by rivals Ajax by a 1–0 scoreline. AZ also finished third in their Europa League group, thus failing to qualifying for the competition's knockout round.
In the 2011–12 season, AZ finished fourth in the Eredivisie, though performed significantly better in cup competitions, reaching the semi-finals in the KNVB Cup (losing to Heracles after extra time) and the quarter-finals in the Europa League. In the latter, the club ultimately lost to Valencia after having defeated Udinese, Anderlecht, Malmö FF, Austria Wien, Metalist Kharkiv, Aalesund and Baumit Jablonec to reach that stage.
On 21 December 2011, during the quarter-finals of the 2011–12 KNVB Cup, a 19-year-old Ajax fan invaded the Amsterdam Arena pitch in the 36th minute with Ajax winning 1–0, attacking AZ goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado. The fan slipped and Alvarado kicked the fan twice, prompting the referee to issue the goalkeeper a red card. Following this, AZ manager Gertjan Verbeek ordered his players to leave the pitch for the dressing room in protest. The match was later played on 19 January 2012, with Alvarado's red card rescinded; AZ won 3–2.
The 2012–13 season started in the Europa League with a qualifying play-off round against Guus Hiddink's Anzhi Makhachkala. AZ was hammered 6–0 on aggregate. Disappointingly, AZ finished tenth in the 2012–13 Eredivisie, although the club won the 2012–13 KNVB Cup after defeating PSV 2–1 in the final. As cup winners, AZ automatically qualified for the 2013–14 Europa League.
In September 2013, just one day after emphatically beating PSV, at the time the league leaders, Verbeek was dismissed as first team manager by the club due to "a lack of chemistry" between management and players. He was replaced by Dick Advocaat for the remainder of the season until a permanent replacement could be found. Advocaat took AZ to the semi-finals of the KNVB Cup, the quarter-finals of the Europa League and eighth in the league, ultimately losing to Groningen in the Europa League play-off final round (their 58th match of the season, a club record).
2014–2019: Van den Brom years edit
The 2014–15 season began with a new manager, former Heerenveen manager and Ajax great Marco van Basten. However, after just three matches into the season, Van Basten resigned as manager to become assistant manager under Alex Pastoor, citing heavy stress as the main reason. Pastoor was the interim manager during two matches under Van Basten's absence and received the official title on 16 September, but contract negotiations failed and he left the club just two days later. A week later, John van den Brom was appointed manager. Under Van den Brom, AZ quickly rose up to the sub-top, eventually finished the season in third place, surpassing Feyenoord on the final season's matchday and qualifying for the 2015–16 Europa League.
The 2015–16 Eredivisie started with AZ selling most of its first-team players from the previous season during the summer transfer period. As a response, AZ bought players from other Dutch clubs, notably Vincent Janssen from Almere City, Alireza Jahanbakhsh from NEC and Ben Rienstra from PEC Zwolle. In December, it was announced free agent Ron Vlaar signed a contract until the end of the season after training with the club for a few weeks prior. Vlaar quickly became team captain and helped lift AZ from tenth place to a fourth-place finish in the league. Along this rise, new signing Vincent Janssen scored 27 goals for the club, earning him the Eredivisie top goalscorer title. In the 2015–16 KNVB Cup, AZ made it to the semi-finals, losing 3–1 to Feyenoord. AZ won the first two qualification rounds to qualify for the 2015–16 Europa League group stage, but finished last in their group.
At the start of the 2016–17 Eredivisie, AZ sold last season's performer Vincent Janssen to Tottenham Hotspur and long-time midfielder Markus Henriksen to Hull City. In the 2016–17 Europa League, AZ finished second in Group D, surviving the group stage for the third time in five seasons.
Since 2019: Slot–Jansen years edit
After an excellent 2019/20 season in which AZ beat league leaders Ajax home and away, aided by consistent performances from youth academy talents such as Teun Koopmeiners, Myron Boadu, Calvin Stengs and Owen Wijndal, the season was forced to end early due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joint on points with Ajax at the top of the table, AZ were given second place on goal difference, and subsequently earned Qualification to the Champions League second qualifying round.
AZ also struggled in European competitions this season. Despite a strong start, with a 3–1 extra time come back against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League qualifiers, the club lost 2–0 to Dynamo Kiev several weeks later, seeing them fall back into the Europa League. After victory against Napoli and Rijeka early in the pool stages, AZ was on track to advance, though lost to Real Sociedad away, obtained a 0–0 draw in the reverse fixture, and also drew 1–1 with Napoli. Following these results, AZ needed to defeat Rijeka away to advance. However, the departure the week before the game of manager Arne Slot saw an unorganised team lose 2–1 to Rijeka, ending their European dream.
In 2022-2023, AZ stepped up their performance in Europa Conference League play, winning five out of six Group E matches against SC Dnipro-1, Apollon Limassol and Vaduz, then beating Lazio 4-2 on aggregate. However, their run was ended by defeats to West Ham United, with AZ's home leg marred by supporter violence.
Coaching staff edit
|Head coach||Pascal Jansen|
|Assistant coach|| Robert Franssen |
|Goalkeeper coach||Nick van Aart|
|Fitness coach||Niels Kok|
|Chief Scout||Carlos Aalbers|
|Scout|| Arthur Numan |
|Head of Medical||Rob Tamminga|
|Club doctor||Ingrid Paul|
|Physiotherapist|| Martin Cruijff |
|Team Manager||Ari Menmi|
|Technical director||Max Huiberts|
Current squad edit
- As of 1 September 2023
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan edit
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Jong AZ edit
Stadium and sponsor edit
AZ play its home matches at the AFAS Stadion, located in the southern part of the city of Alkmaar. The stadium, which is directly owned by the club, was opened in 2006 and replaced the old Alkmaarderhout venue as the DSB Stadion. The stadium currently has a capacity of 17,023. During its design stages, the name Victorie Stadion was frequently used, referring to the Dutch War of Independence, the phrase "In Alkmaar begint de victorie" (Victory begins in Alkmaar) in particular. Until now, this name has not been officially in use, the board instead opting for sponsorship deals because of financial motives. However, to this day, the name maintains a good share of support among the fans.
To further increase revenue, AZ's board of directors decided to expand the capacity of the new stadium to at least 30,000 somewhere in the future. The extension will be realised by constructing a second tier to three of the four stands. The main stand with all technical areas, VIP and sponsor and media facilities will remain in place. These plans, however, were put on hold after the DSB bankruptcy and there are no current plans to increase the capacity.
In October 2009, sponsor DSB Bank was declared bankrupt. The stadium name temporarily changed from DSB Stadion to AZ Stadion, as it was considered undesirable that the stadium was linked with a non-existent bank. In February 2010, a new main sponsor was found in construction works service provider BUKO, based in Beverwijk.
A year later, in the 2010–11 season, AFAS Software took over as official stadium sponsor. The current external name of the ground is the AFAS Stadion.
On 10 August 2019, the roof of the stadium partially collapsed. No people were injured during the incident. As the result AZ spent the rest of the year playing home matches at the Cars Jeans Stadion in The Hague whilst the damaged roof was being removed, before returning to the stadium on 15 December 2019, beating Ajax 1–0 in their first match back. AZ played the rest of the 2019/20 season, until the COVID-19 pandemic cut it short, without a roof. During the 2020/21 season, a new roof was installed, held up by 20 crane-like arms on three sides and a so-called mega truss on the main stand. The renewed stadium, which also included a capacity upgrade of nearly 2,500 seats for a new total capacity of 19,500, was officially opened on September 11, 2021, before the home game against PSV.
Kit suppliers and shirt sponsors edit
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
- Eerste Divisie
- Tweede Divisie
- Winners (1): 1955–562
- Runners-up (1): 1963–641
- KNVB Cup
- Johan Cruyff Shield
- UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League
- UEFA Europa Conference League
- Semi-finalists: 2022–23
2 As KFC in the Eerste Klasse C, precursor of the Tweede Klasse in the first year of professional football in the Netherlands.
European record edit
UEFA coefficient ranking edit
- As of 24 August 2023
|36||West Ham United||50.000|
Domestic results edit
Below is a table with AZ's domestic results since the introduction of professional football in 1956.
|Domestic Results since 1956|
|Domestic league||League result||Qualification to||KNVB Cup season||Cup result|
|1956–57 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||2nd (group A)||–||1956–57||Third round|
|1957–58 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||9th (group A)||–||1957–58||Third round|
|1958–59 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||4th (group A)||–||1958–59||Third round|
|1959–60 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||1st (group B)||Eredivisie (promotion)||not held||not held|
|1960–61 Eredivisie (as Alkmaar '54)||17th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1960–61||First round|
|1961–62 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||12th (group A)||Tweede Divisie (relegation)||1961–62||Second round|
|1962–63 Tweede Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||4th (group A)||–||1962–63||Semi-finals|
|1963–64 Tweede Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)||1st (group A); 2nd overall losing play-off||Eerste Divisie (winning promotion tournament)||1963–64||First round|
|1964–65 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54)
1964–65 Tweede Divisie (as FC Zaanstreek)
6th (group A)
|–||1964–65||First round |
First round
|1965–66 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar'54)
1965–66 Tweede Divisie (as FC Zaanstreek)
3rd (group A)
Eerste Divisie (promotion)
|1965–66||Group stage |
Group stage
|1966–67 Eerste Divisie (as Alkmaar '54
and FC Zaanstreek)
|–||1966–67||First round |
First round
|1967–68 Eerste Divisie||2nd||Eredivisie (promotion)||1967–68||Group stage|
|1968–69 Eredivisie||16th||– (after surviving relegation play-offs)||1968–69||Second round|
|1969–70 Eredivisie||12th||–||1969–70||Quarter-finals|
|1970–71 Eredivisie||17th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1970–71||Second round|
|1971–72 Eerste Divisie||2nd||Eredivisie (promotion)||1971–72||First round|
|1976–77 Eredivisie||3rd||UEFA Cup||1976–77||Semi-finals|
|1977–78 Eredivisie||3rd||Cup Winners' Cup||1977–78||Winner|
|1979–80 Eredivisie||2nd||UEFA Cup||1979–80||Quarter-finals|
|1980–81 Eredivisie||1st||European Cup||1980–81||Winner|
|1981–82 Eredivisie||3rd||Cup Winners' Cup||1981–82||Winner|
|1982–83 Eredivisie||11th||–||1982–83||Second round|
|1984–85 Eredivisie||13th||–||1984–85||First round|
|1985–86 Eredivisie||9th||–||1985–86||Second round|
|1986–87 Eredivisie||15th||–||1986–87||Second round|
|1987–88 Eredivisie||16th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1987–88||First round|
|1988–89 Eerste Divisie||5th||–||1988–89||Quarter-finals|
|1989–90 Eerste Divisie||12th||–||1989–90||First round|
|1990–91 Eerste Divisie||4th||promotion/relegation play-off: no promotion||1990–91||First round|
|1991–92 Eerste Divisie||13th||–||1991–92||Second round|
|1992–93 Eerste Divisie||10th||–||1992–93||Third round|
|1993–94 Eerste Divisie||3rd||promotion/relegation play-off: no promotion||1993–94||Round of 16|
|1994–95 Eerste Divisie||5th||promotion/relegation play-off: no promotion||1994–95||Round of 16|
|1995–96 Eerste Divisie||1st||Eredivisie (promotion)||1995–96||Round of 16|
|1996–97 Eredivisie||18th||Eerste Divisie (relegation)||1996–97||Quarter-finals|
|1997–98 Eerste Divisie||1st||Eredivisie (promotion)||1997–98||First round (knock-out stage)|
|1998–99 Eredivisie||9th||–||1998–99||Round of 16|
|2001–02 Eredivisie||10th||–||2001–02||Second round (knock-out stage)|
|2002–03 Eredivisie||10th||–||2002–03||Second round (knock-out stage)|
|2003–04 Eredivisie||5th||UEFA Cup||2003–04||Second round|
|2004–05 Eredivisie||3rd||UEFA Cup||2004–05||Round of 16|
|2005–06 Eredivisie||2nd||UEFA Cup (after losing Champions League play-offs)||2005–06||Semi-finals|
|2006–07 Eredivisie||3rd||UEFA Cup (after losing Champions League play-offs)||2006–07||Final|
|2007–08 Eredivisie||11th||–||2007–08||Second round|
|2008–09 Eredivisie||1st||Champions League||2008–09||Quarter-finals|
|2009–10 Eredivisie||5th||Europa League (Q3)||2009–10||Round of 16|
|2010–11 Eredivisie||4th||Europa League (Q3)||2010–11||Round of 16|
|2011–12 Eredivisie||4th||Europa League (Q4)||2011–12||Semi-finals|
|2012–13 Eredivisie||10th||Europa League||2012–13||Winner|
|2014–15 Eredivisie||3rd||Europa League (Q3)||2014–15||Quarter-finals|
|2015–16 Eredivisie||4th||Europa League (Q3)||2015–16||Semi-finals|
|2017–18 Eredivisie||3rd||Europa League (Q3)||2017–18||Final|
|2018–19 Eredivisie||4th||Europa League (Q2)||2018–19||Semi-finals|
|2019–20 Eredivisie||2nd||Champions League (Q2)||2019–20||Quarter-finals|
|2020–21 Eredivisie||3rd||Europa League (Q4)||2020–21||Round of 16|
|2021–22 Eredivisie||5th||Europa Conference League (Q2)||2021–22||Semi-finals|
|2022–23 Eredivisie||4th||Europa Conference League (Q3)||2022–23||Round of 16|
Alkmaar '54 edit
KFC / FC Zaanstreek edit
AZ '67 edit
- Klaas en Cees Molenaar had been at this match and blamed Ajax' late equalizer on a mistake by the referee; they claimed they then swore to once become national champion with their team, with which they succeeded 47 years later.
- "AZ Historie - De fusie van Alkmaar Zaanstreek" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 11 December 2021.
- Alkmaar '54 en Venlo spelen allereerst profduel (in Dutch), Algemeen Dagblad, 25 June 2008.
- Rob Bruins Slot and Dirk Jan Roeleven, AZ, of: hoe maak je een topclub, VPRO, Andere Tijden (in Dutch)
- Martin Rep, Hoe het profvoetbal verdween uit de Zaanstreek (in Dutch), De Orkaan, 10 August 2018.
- "Eredivisie: AZ Alkmaar announce surprise sacking of coach Gertjan Verbeek".
- "Van Basten doet stap terug bij AZ, Alex Pastoor nieuwe trainer".
- "Former Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar joins AZ Alkmaar until end of season". The Guardian. Press Association. 7 December 2015.
- Steinberg, Jacob (19 May 2023). "AZ Alkmaar coach ashamed after fans confront West Ham players families". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
- "Spelers". az.nl. AZ. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
- "Dak van AZ-stadion gedeeltelijk ingestort". RTL Nieuws (in Dutch). RTL Nieuws. 10 August 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
- "Samenvatting AZ-Ajax (1-0)". Het Parool (in Dutch). Het Parool. 15 December 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
- "Mega Truss: nieuw hoogtepunt". AZ.nl (in Dutch). AZ. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
- "Spetterende show bij heropening AZ-stadion. 'Gefeliciteerd met jullie nieuwe huis. Geniet ervan!' [video]". Noord-Hollands Dagblad (in Dutch). Noord-Hollands Dagblad. 12 September 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
- "Club coefficients". UEFA. 24 August 2023. Retrieved 24 August 2023.