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Ajax tie up promising pair

AFC Ajax have awarded Wesley Sneijder and Johnny Heitinga new long-term contracts until July 2007.

Improved terms
Both players have signed deals that will keep them at the Dutch club until July 2007, with Sneijder's new contract giving the midfield player improved terms that will come into effect on 1 January 2004. Ajax - who were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday - have also taken up an option on Heitinga's existing contract, which has also been extended to summer 2007 and offers the player similarly improved terms.

Rapid rise
Heitinga and Sneijder are products of Ajax's famous youth system, with the 19-year-old Sneijder making his first-team debut in February 2003. The midfield player made a remarkable rise to prominence, making his full international debut for the Netherlands in April and becoming an integral figure in Ronald Koeman's side.

Injury setbacks
Heitinga, a 20-year-old defender, made his first-team debut in August 2001, although his progress has subsequently been hampered by two serious knee injuries.