AZ, an acronym for Alkmaar Zaanstreek, is an association football club from the city of Alkmaar, Netherlands. The club plays in the Eredivisie, the highest football league in the Netherlands. AZ was founded in 1967 as AZ '67. The name was changed into AZ in July 1986; internationally, the tautology AZ Alkmaar is often used.
AZ was founded on 10 May 1967 as AZ '67, the result of a merger of Alkmaar '54 and FC Zaanstreek. FC Zaanstreek was formed in 1964, continuing the professional adventure of the Kooger Football Club (KFC). KFC had been founded in 1910, had nearly become National Champion in 1934 through a narrow loss to Ajax in the finals, and had been professional since 1955.
In 1964, the brothers Cees and Klaas Molenaar, former players for KFC and owners of a growing appliance store chain, sought to create a powerful football team in the Zaanstreek by merging the two local professional teams (KFC and ZFC). After this merger failed, they successfully merged KFC (now "FC Zaanstreek") with Alkmaar '54, though the team would be located in Alkmaar. Partially through the hiring of expensive foreign player, the new club soon acquired large debts. Fortunately in 1972 the brothers Molenaar bailed it out and invested heavily in the club, to the point that AZ '67 were successful in the late seventies and early eighties. In 1981, they became Dutch champions and UEFA Cup finalists. Things went downhill after the Molenaar brothers left the club. In 1988, AZ were relegated from the Eredivisie.
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