Legendary Dutch player and coach set to become second head coach in club history
Atlanta United today announced it has agreed a multiyear contract with Frank de Boer to become the club’s next head coach. A legendary Dutch player and coach, de Boer began his managerial career at Ajax, where he won a club-record four consecutive Eredivisie titles. De Boer also had an illustrious playing career, spending more than 15 combined seasons at Ajax and FC Barcelona. De Boer will be formally introduced to the media before the start of the 2019 season.
“Frank de Boer has a distinguished background, both as manager and player, and we’re ecstatic to welcome him to our club,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said. “When we began our search, we were determined to find someone who fit all of our criteria. In addition to meeting our club’s core values, Frank’s philosophical views for how to play unequivocally aligns with ours. He also has a proven track record of developing youth players, with many of them going on to star for top European teams. Finally, his multilingual capabilities, including Spanish and English, ensure a smooth transition in the leadership of our club.”
“The club’s sportive ambitions, as set out in a long-term strategy to be the best in class, clearly fits my personal ambitions,” de Boer said. “I would like to build on the current success to develop a secure, solid foundation for the club at the top of MLS and beyond. Aside from the club’s ambitions, the values, culture and the philosophy for the entire organization are a vital part in realizing that point of success. This is exactly what I believe in as a person and as a coach. All of this combined, makes that I am really excited to be a part of it.”
After retiring from an illustrious playing career in 2006, de Boer soon went into coaching, beginning at the youth level at Ajax where he had starred as a professional for 11 seasons. While coaching at Ajax’s academy, known as one of the top developmental programs in all of Europe, de Boer was instrumental in the introduction and development of many youth players who went on to be distinguished players at club and international level. Because of his success, he soon took over as caretaker manager of the Ajax first team midway through the 2010-11 season. Led by numerous former academy players, his team found immediate success before ultimately winning the Eredivisie on the final day of the season, clinching the title by defeating runners-up FC Twente 3-1.
De Boer’s team followed that by winning each of the next three domestic titles, marking the first time Ajax claimed four consecutive Eredivisie titles in its decorated history. Over the course of this run, de Boer continued to develop young players by successfully promoting them into the first team. Many of these players went on to sign with bigger clubs across Europe and in the English Premier League. De Boer went on to win the Rinus Michels Award – awarded to the top manager in Dutch football – in consecutive years to become only the second coach to ever accomplish that feat, joining Guus Hiddink. He resigned as manager following the 2015-16 season with a career winning percentage of 60.3 percent. He also went on to manage at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace.
“Frank’s style of play was very important to us,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “His tactics feature an attacking, high-intensity style that mirrors our approach to the game. And his track record for player development, of pushing youth players into the First Team, speaks for itself.”
A legendary player for club and country, de Boer retired from international football in 2004 and at the time was the most capped player in Dutch history. With a total of 112 appearances over 15 years, de Boer helped lead the Netherlands into the quarterfinals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the semifinals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. During the 1998 tournament, de Boer famously assisted Dennis Bergkamp’s game-winning goal in the 90th minute that defeated Argentina and placed the Dutch in the semifinals for the first time in 20 years. He still ranks third all-time in appearances in the federation’s history, surpassed by Wesley Sneijder and Edwin van der Sar.
De Boer began his club playing career with Ajax in 1988 at just 18 years old. The center back immediately became a first team regular, appearing in 27 games while helping the club finish second in the Eredivisie. The following year, de Boer won his first title as a player, helping the club claim its 23rd domestic title. In 11 seasons as a player at Ajax, de Boer appeared in 328 matches and helped the club win the Eredivisie five times, KNVB Cup three times, Champions League (then European Cup) once and Europa League (then UEFA Cup) once.
In January 1999, de Boer joined FC Barcelona. Despite joining midseason, de Boer was immediately inserted into the starting lineup and helped lead the club to a La Liga title, its 16th at the time. In five seasons at Barcelona, de Boer appeared in 144 matches and scored five goals. He finished his club playing career with stints at Galatasaray, Rangers, Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal.
Eales and Bocanegra will address the media today, Sunday, December 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET via conference call.