Bournemouth forward Justin Kluivert has admitted his early days at Ajax as a youngster “triggered” him to kick on and end up in the Premier League.

The forward has been speaking to Ajax’s official channel about his early days at Ajax, where he was part of a highly rated group of youngsters once upon a time.

The Bournemouth forward came through the youth ranks at the club, starting in their youth set up before going on to play for the U17s, U19s and then the first team over an 11-year period.

He went on to make 56 appearances for the first team too, bagging 13 goals and registering 10 assists in those games before heading to Roma in 2018. And now, looking back, credits his current position on his early days at Ajax.

“It triggered me to work harder and increase my focus,” he said.

“Many boys made it. I remember coaches used to say that only one or two players from each team would make it to professional football. Then I always looked around me.

“I saw players like Matthijs de Ligt, Noa Lang, Donyell Malen , Ché Nunnely, Anderson López and Navajo Bakdraad. Then I thought: am I the one who will make it? I had that stress then. The bar was so high and that worked well for me.”

Kluivert spent seven years in Ajax’s youth team before being moved up to the U17s in 2014, going on to manage seven goals and four assists for them before stepping up again to the U19s.

Five goals and eights assists in 11 games for them followed, as well as one goal and five assists in the UEFA U19 side, and then two goals and three assists for the U21 side.

That step up was key for Kluivert, who admitted it forced him to change from a boy to a man before heading to the first team.

“After the C1 I changed from a boy, like I am in the team photo, into a young man,” he added.

“I paid more attention to the mental aspect; I ate well, I slept enough and got treatment if I had any problems. They were patient with me.

“I had to discover my body and once all the aches and pains were gone, things went very quickly. Debuting in Ajax 1 became my only and ultimate goal.”

After making into Ajax’s first team, Kluivert went on to bounce around Europe, joining Roma, RB Leipzig, OGC Nice and Valencia before ending up at Bournemouth last summer.

He’s enjoyed his first season in the Premier League, managing nine goals and two assists in 36 games and establishing himself as a key player under Andoni Iraola.

Kluivert has spoken more than once about his happiness on the south coast and he again reiterates that, insisting his early days at Ajax are proving key.

“I know what I can do and I never give up, still not now,” he concluded.

“That is because of these times, because I was really not the best at the time. I’m doing well, and I like it here. I can’t complain.”