Chivu started his professional career at Ajax where Chivu developed a reputation as a reliable fullback and a free-kick specialist. Then-manager Ronald Koeman appointed him as captain of the club. With Chivu as captain, Ajax dominated the Dutch Eredivisie with an exciting young squad. Playing alongside Chivu were future stars such as Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Johnny Heitinga, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Maxwell. Chivu played a pivotal role for Ajax in their UEFA Champions League run in the 2002–03 season, when they came to within a minute of the semi-finals. That season, Chivu was in a quintet of Ajax players – himself, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Maxwell, Wesley Sneijder and Andy van der Meyde – who all went on to later join Inter Milan. Chivu speaks Italian, Dutch, Spanish and English, as well as his native Romanian. His father, Mircea was also a footballer and a coach, the Mircea Chivu Stadium from Reșița is named in his honor. He played as a right back for FCM Reșița and Universitatea Craiova winning the 1973–74 Divizia A with the team from Craiova. Mircea was coach at FCM Reșița when Cristian started his career. According to Calcio Italia magazine, Chivu has been involved in opening football schools around Romania for the past few years, and he said “I hope that he is proud when he looks down on me” in reference to his father who died in 1998. He is married to Adelina Elisei who on 12 February 2009 gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Natalia.