May 26, 2009

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Martin Jol is leaving Hamburg to take over as coach of Ajax next season.

Ajax announced the hiring Tuesday. Jol replaces Marco van Basten, who resigned three weeks ago.

Jol led Hamburg to the UEFA Cup and German Cup semifinals in his first season in charge and the team ended fifth in the Bundesliga.

Jol, who previously managed Premier League club Tottenham, signed a three-year contract with Ajax. The club ended third in the Dutch league this season, behind AZ Alkmaar and FC Twente, after inconsistent performances.

The 53-year-old Dutchman said he was looking forward to returning to work in the Netherlands after his spells in England and Germany.

"Ajax is a fantastic club and I'm really looking forward to starting work," Jol said. "I have really enjoyed my time at Hamburg. It's a big club and Hamburg is a great city to work and live in."

As well as coaching Ajax's first team, Jol has been given control over the buying and selling of players, scouting and the club's renowned youth development program.

A former player with clubs including Bayern Munich, West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City, Jol coached Dutch teams Roda JC Kerkrade and RKC Waalwijk before moving to Spurs.

Ajax director Rik van den Boog said Jol fitted the club's profile for a coach to replace van Basten -- whose name has been linked with the AC Milan coaching job if Carlo Ancelotti leaves the Italian powerhouse in the summer.

Jol "has experience here and overseas," van den Boog said. "He has worked at big and small clubs and shown he can get the most out of players. He also has shown he is prepared to give talented youth players a chance, which is critically important to us."

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