Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech broke down in tears as Ajax gave the player a heart-breaking send-off ahead of his summer transfer to Stamford Bridge.
The club announced in mid-February that they had agreed a £33.3million deal for Ziyech to join in July, with the playmaker becoming Lampard’s first signing.
However, Ziyech was denied the opportunity to leave Ajax in style when the Eredivisie campaign was declared null and void due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he was given a dramatic farewell ceremony by the club instead.
Ziyech was brought to the Tuschinski theatre in Amsterdam to be shown a series of clips and messages, where he conceded it was very hard to leave Ajax without a goodbye.
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‘It’s a bit strange. You know that everything comes to an end. But it’s, you know…. It’s a strange way of closing this chapter.’
Asked if he had ever imagined he would leave the club in such way, Ziyech said: ‘No. Not what I had imagined, no.
‘I am happy to take the next step, but you don’t want to end it like this. It feels as if you didn’t pass the exams, that’s how it feels. You’re powerless. It doesn’t feel like the season ended successfully.’
Ziyech started to get emotional as the interviewer suggested he should have been substituted in the final match of the season to a standing ovation, to which he replied: ‘That would have been the perfect end. But unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be for me.’
Ziyech was shown a couple of messages from his Ajax teammates, past and present, wishing him good luck at his new team, with even Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez sending in a video clip.
‘I enjoyed sharing the pitch with you, I enjoyed your brilliance,’ said skipper Daley Blind.
‘I’ll keep enjoying you and following you at Chelsea. Good luck, we will meet again.’ ‘Beautiful, beautiful,’ said Ziyech at all the words, though it was a final message from his mother that really brought him to tears when she popped up on screen.
‘I’m really happy for you that you will go to London,’ she said. ‘Do you best, take good care, and behave like a gentleman. I love you and I am proud of you. Good luck in London.’
Ziyech had to take time to compose himself as tears streamed down his face, saying: ‘Of course, I know what I’m doing it for. It’s the words your mother often says to you. My mother.
‘She’s a proud woman. I can see that she’s proud although she tries to hide it. Just knowing the hard life that she’s had, you know.
‘She came her at a young age, raised nine kids. Eight or nine. Lost her husband too soon. And then you’re on your own. It’s all for her. I do it because I love it, but it’s all for her. If it wasn’t for her, I’d have quit football a long time ago.’
Asked how he will look back on his career at Ajax, he saidd: ‘Proud feelings. Warm feelings. And that I will always feel welcome here. That is most important.’