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The footballers of Ajax, reigning champions of the Netherlands, were on call to cast their votes for the 2014 FIFA FIFPro World XI. This year, it appeared that the players had more difficulty than usual in picking the eleven names for their team.

It was the fourth consecutive year that a delegation of FIFPro and Dutch players association VVCS had visited the home of Ajax, which was no coincidence as the Amsterdam club has had a firm grip on the Dutch national title from 2011 to 2014.

The 2014 year of football apparently made it more difficult for the players to come up with the best eleven names for the World XI, as no player was able to excel in the most significant competitions. Spanish clubs dominated European club football, but their national team was invisible at the FIFA World Cup. Germany won that all-important trophy, narrowly beating Argentina in the final, while Brazil took devastating hits in its last two matches.

More than ever before in the Ajax boardroom, players were seen scratching their heads and furrowing their brows. "I still need a midfielder", Ricardo van Rhijn called out for help. "It was more difficult than I expected", talented Ricardo Krishna confessed. "I had some trouble with my defenders. But I think I have a decent back four with Philipp Lahm, Diego Godín, Sergio Ramos and David Alaba".

Some of the players were well prepared, such as Jasper Cillessen and Lasse Schöne. Last year, Danish national team player Schöne was the last player to drop his form in the ballot box, as he needed that much time to fill in his form. This year, he was much quicker: he had already discussed his World XI with one of the physiotherapists, and then saved his choices to his Smartphone.

Cillessen, goalkeeper for both Ajax and the Dutch national team, was also prepared: "Last Sunday, I sat down with my brother and my friend Arjen Ebbinge from the Dutch union VVCS and we thoroughly discussed our choices. It was a difficult yet fun evening to come up with the best and also most attractive side."

Cillessen is one of two current Ajax players who were members of the Dutch national team that surprisingly captured the third place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup; Joël Veltman was the other player. A third Ajax player left the Dutch giants after the event in Brazil: Daley Blind signed for Manchester United.

Veltman and Cillessen each selected one of their World Cup teammates as a member of the World XI. Cillessen wrote down Arjen Robben's name as one of three attackers next to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, while Veltman added Nigel de Jong as a holding midfielder behind Xavi and Iniesta.

Since FIFPro introduced the World XI in 2005, only one Dutchman has been voted in this elite team: Wesley Sneijder in 2010 after a stellar World Cup performance.

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