Johan Cruyff
Name: Johan Cruyff
Occupation: Soccer Player
Gender: Male
Birth Day: April 25, 1947
Death Date: Mar 24, 2016 (age 68)
Age: Aged 68
Birth Place: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Zodiac Sign: Taurus

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Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff was born on April 25, 1947 in Amsterdam, Netherlands (68 years old). Johan Cruyff is a Soccer Player, zodiac sign: Taurus. Nationality: Netherlands. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed. @ plays for the team .


He won three European Cups and was named European Footballer of the Year three times while playing with Ajax.

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Does Johan Cruyff Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Johan Cruyff died on Mar 24, 2016 (age 68).


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Before Fame

He joined the Ajax youth system in 1957.


Biography Timeline


Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff was born on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam, on a street five minutes away from Ajax's stadium, his first football club. Johan was the second son of Hermanus Cornelis Cruijff and Petronella Bernarda Draaijer, from a humble, working-class background in east Amsterdam. Cruyff, encouraged by his influential football-loving father and his close proximity in Akkerstraat to the De Meer Stadium, played football with his schoolmates and older brother, Henny, whenever he could, and idolised the prolific Dutch dribbler, Faas Wilkes.


In 1959, Cruyff's father died from a heart attack. His father's death had a major impact on his mentality. As Cruyff recalled, in celebration of his 50th birthday, "My father died when I was just 12 and he was 45. From that day the feeling crept stronger over me that I would die at the same age and, when I had serious heart problems when I reached 45, I thought: 'This is it.' Only medical science, which was not available to help my father, kept me alive." Viewing a potential football career as a way of paying tribute to his father, the death inspired the strong-willed Cruyff, who also frequently visited the burial site at Oosterbegraafplaats. His mother began working at Ajax as a cleaner, deciding that she could no longer carry on at the grocer without her husband, and in the future, this made Cruyff near-obsessed with financial security but also gave him an appreciation for player aids. His mother soon met her second husband, Henk Angel, a field hand at Ajax who proved a key influence in Cruyff's life.


Cruyff joined the Ajax youth system on his tenth birthday. Cruyff and his friends would frequent a visit "playground" in their neighbourhood and Ajax youth coach Jany van der Veen, who lived close by, noticed Cruyff's talent and decided to offer him a place at Ajax without a formal trial. He showed talent both on the pitcher's mound and behind the plate, as a catcher, before having to leave the club's baseball section at age 15 to focus on football. He made his first team debut on 15 November 1964 in the Eredivisie, against GVAV, scoring the only goal for Ajax in a 3–1 defeat. That year, Ajax finished in their lowest position since the establishment of professional football, in 13th. Cruyff really started to make an impression in the 1965–66 season and established himself as a regular first team player after scoring two goals against DWS in the Olympic stadium on 24 October 1965 in a 2–0 victory. In the seven games that winter, he scored eight times and in March 1966 scored the first three goals in a league game against Telstar in a 6–2 win. Four days later, in a cup game against Veendam in a 7–0 win, he scored four goals. In total that season, Cruyff scored 25 goals in 23 games, and Ajax won the league championship.


As a Dutch international, Cruyff played 48 matches, scoring 33 goals. The national team never lost a match in which Cruyff scored. On 7 September 1966, he made his official debut for the Netherlands in the UEFA Euro 1968 qualifier against Hungary, scoring in the 2–2 draw. In his second match, a friendly against Czechoslovakia, Cruyff was the first Dutch international to receive a red card. The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) banned him from Ajax games but not internationals.


At the wedding of Ajax teammate Piet Keizer, on 13 June 1967, Cruyff met his future wife, Diana Margaretha "Danny" Coster (b. 1949). They started dating, and on 2 December 1968, at the age of 21, he married Danny. Her father was Dutch businessman Cor Coster who also happened to be Cruyff's agent. He was also credited with engineering Cruyff's move to FC Barcelona in 1973. The marriage is said to have been happy for almost 50 years. Contrary to his well-known strong personality and superstar status, Cruyff led a relatively quiet private life beyond the world of football. A highly principled, strong-minded and devoted family man, Cruyff's football career, both as a player and as a manager, was considerably influenced by his family, in particular his wife Danny. He and Danny had three children together: Chantal (16 November 1970), Susila (27 January 1972), and Jordi (9 February 1974). The family has lived in Barcelona since 1973, with a six-year interruption from December 1981 to January 1988 when they lived in Vinkeveen, the Netherlands.


In the 1966–67 season, Ajax again won the league championship, and also won the KNVB Cup, for Cruyff's first "double". Cruyff ended the season as the leading goalscorer in the Eredivisie with 33. Cruyff won the league for the third successive year in the 1967–68 season. He was also named Dutch footballer of the year for the second successive time, a feat he repeated in 1969. On 28 May 1969, Cruyff played in his first European Cup final against Milan, but the Italians won 4–1.


In the 1969–70 season, Cruyff won his second league and cup "double"; at the beginning of the 1970–71 season, he suffered a groin injury. He made his comeback on 30 October 1970 against PSV, and rather than wear his usual number 9, which was in use by Gerrie Mühren, he instead used number 14. Ajax won 1–0. Although it was very uncommon in those days for the starters of a game not to play with numbers 1 to 11, from that moment onwards, Cruyff wore number 14, even with the Dutch national team. There was a documentary on Cruyff, Nummer 14 Johan Cruyff and in the Netherlands there is a magazine by Voetbal International, Nummer 14.

In a league game against AZ '67 on 29 November 1970, Cruyff scored six goals in an 8–1 victory. After winning a replayed KNVB Cup final against Sparta Rotterdam by a score of 2–1, Ajax won in Europe for the first time. On 2 June 1971, in London, Ajax won the European Cup by defeating Panathinaikos 2–0. He signed a seven-year contract at Ajax. At the end of the season, he was named the Dutch and European Footballer of the Year for 1971.

On 30 October 1970, Cruyff was coming back from a long-term injury to play Ajax's bitter rivals PSV. However, in the locker room before the match, teammate Gerrie Muhren could not find his number 7 jersey. Cruyff offered his shirt to Muhren and went to the basket to pick another one at random. It happened to be the number 14. Ajax won 1–0 and Cruyff suggested they keep the same numbers to the following game — according to Muhren, in an interview to Voetbal International, it was a form to challenge the Dutch Football Association. From then on, Cruyff kept using the number 14 for Ajax and Netherlands national team when he was allowed to.


Throughout his career, Cruyff became synonymous with the playing style of "Total Football". It is a system where a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, thus allowing the team to retain their intended organizational structure. In this fluid system, no footballer is fixed in their intended outfield role. The style was honed by Ajax coach Rinus Michels, with Cruyff serving as the on-field "conductor". Space and the creation of it were central to the concept of Total Football. Ajax defender Barry Hulshoff, who played with Cruyff, explained how the team that won the European Cup in 1971, 1972 and 1973 worked it to their advantage: "We discussed space the whole time. Cruyff always talked about where people should run, where they should stand, where they should not be moving. It was all about making space and coming into space. It is a kind of architecture on the field. We always talked about speed of ball, space and time. Where is the most space? Where is the player who has the most time? That is where we have to play the ball. Every player had to understand the whole geometry of the whole pitch and the system as a whole."

One of very few players who actually have a dribbling move named after them, Cruyff also perfected and popularized a feint now known as the Cruyff Turn (or Cruijff Turn). With its simplicity, effectiveness and unpredictability, the Cruyff Turn remains one of the most commonly used dribbling moves in modern football. He was the first player to win the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974. His world record move from Ajax to Barcelona in 1973 made him the first player to cost more than two million US dollars.


In 1972, Ajax won a second European Cup, beating Inter Milan 2–0 in the final, with Cruyff scoring both goals. This victory prompted Dutch newspapers to announce the demise of the Italian style of defensive football in the face of Total Football. Soccer: The Ultimate Encyclopaedia says, "Single-handed, Cruyff not only pulled Internazionale of Italy apart in the 1972 European Cup Final, but scored both goals in Ajax's 2–0 win." Cruyff also scored in the 3–2 victory over ADO Den Haag in the KNVB Cup final. In the league, Cruyff was the top scorer with 25 goals as Ajax became champions. Ajax won the Intercontinental Cup, beating Argentina's Independiente 1–1 in the first game followed by 3–0, and then in January 1973, they won the European Super Cup by beating Rangers 3–1 away and 3–2 in Amsterdam. Cruyff's only own goal came on 20 August 1972 against FC Amsterdam. A week later, against Go Ahead Eagles in a 6–0 win, Cruyff scored four times for Ajax. The 1972–73 season was concluded with another league championship victory and a third successive European Cup with a 1–0 win over Juventus in the final, with the Encyclopedia stating Cruyff "inspired one of the greatest 20-minute spells of football ever seen".


In mid-1973, Cruyff was sold to Barcelona for 6 million guilders (approx. US$2 million, c. 1973) in a world record transfer fee. On 19 August 1973, he played his last match for Ajax where they defeated FC Amsterdam 6–1, the second match of the 1973–74 season.

Regarded by many as Europe's first true football superstar, Cruyff is often mentioned alongside the pair widely considered the finest to have played the game, Pele and Maradona. As a player, he greatly helped turn the previously backward and obscure Dutch football (at both club and international level) into a world-class powerhouse in the 1970s. In Simon Kuper's words, "without Cruyff, Holland [Netherlands] wouldn't have had a footballing tradition." Cruyff is always considered to be an indisputable icon in Ajax's history, especially in the club's golden era (1966–1973). He was instrumental in Ajax's transformation from a semi-professional club into a dominant force in European club football. Cruyff inspired Ajax to win the European Cup three times in succession at the beginning of the 1970s before moving to Barcelona in 1973 and helping the club win their first La Liga title in 14 years. In 1974, he led the Netherlands to their first FIFA World Cup final and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.

In August 1973, Ajax players voted for Piet Keizer to be the team's captain in a secret ballot, ahead of Cruyff. And Cruyff decided his time in Amsterdam had come to an end. He joined Barcelona just weeks later, two years before the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died, maintaining to the European press corps en route that he chose Barcelona over rivals Real Madrid because he could never join a club "associated with Franco". As he recalled in a documentary on TV3 channel, "I remember my move to Spain was quite controversial. ... The president of Ajax wanted to sell me to Real Madrid, ... Barcelona weren't at the same level as Madrid football wise, but it was a challenge to play for a Catalan club. Barcelona was more than a club." At the end of the 1982–83 season, Ajax decided not to offer Cruyff a new contract. This angered Cruyff and he responded by signing for Ajax's archrivals Feyenoord. Cruyff's season at Feyenoord was a successful one in which the club won the Eredivisie for the first time in a decade, part of a league and KNVB Cup double.


Cruyff endeared himself to the Barcelona fans when he chose a Catalan name, Jordi, for his son. He helped the club win La Liga for the first time since 1960, defeating their fiercest rivals Real Madrid 5–0 at their home of the Santiago Bernabéu. Thousands of Barcelona fans who watched the match on television poured out of their homes to join in street celebrations. A New York Times journalist wrote that Cruyff had done more for the spirit of the Catalan people in 90 minutes than many politicians in years of struggle. Football historian Jimmy Burns stated, "with Cruyff, the team felt they couldn't lose". He gave them speed, flexibility and a sense of themselves. In 1974 Cruyff was crowned European Footballer of the Year.

Cruyff led the Netherlands to a runners-up medal in the 1974 World Cup and was named player of the tournament. Thanks to his team's mastery of Total Football, they coasted all the way to the final, knocking out Argentina (4–0), East Germany (2–0) and Brazil (2–0) along the way. Cruyff scored twice against Argentina in one of his team's most dominating performances, then he scored the second goal against Brazil to knock out the defending champions.

The team orchestrator, Cruyff was a creative playmaker with a gift for timing passes. Nominally, he played centre-forward in this system and was a prolific goalscorer, but dropped deep to confuse his markers or moved to the wing to great effect. In the 1974 World Cup final between West Germany and the Netherlands, from the kick-off, the Dutch monopolised ball possession. At the start of the move that led to the opening goal, Cruyff picked up the ball in his own half. The Dutch captain, who was nominally a centre-forward, was the deepest Dutch outfield player, and after a series of passes, he set off on a run from the centre circle into the West German box. Unable to stop Cruyff by fair means, Uli Hoeness brought Cruyff down, conceding a penalty scored by Johan Neeskens. The first German to thus touch the ball was goalkeeper Sepp Maier picking the ball out of his own net. Due to the way Cruyff played the game, he is still referred to as "the total footballer". Former French player Eric Cantona states, "If he wanted he could be the best player in any position on the pitch."

In the 1974 FIFA World Cup, Netherlands' head coach Rinus Michels wanted his squad to wear numbers alphabetically. As Cruyff was the first player on the roster, he would be number 1, but he refused and insisted on wearing his lucky number 14. Forward Ruud Geels ended up with the number 1 shirt while goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed played as the number 8.


As well as representing Catalonia on the pitch in 1976, Cruyff also managed the Catalonia national team from 2009 to 2013, leading the team to a victory over Argentina in his debut match.

In 1976, the Italian-language documentary film Il profeta del gol was directed by Sandro Ciotti. The documentary narrates the successes of Johan Cruyff's football career in the 1970s. In 2004, the documentary film Johan Cruijff – En un momento dado ("Johan Cruijff – At Any Given Moment") was made by Ramon Gieling and charts the years Cruyff spent at Barcelona, the club where he had the most profound effect in both a footballing and cultural sense. In 2014, the Catalan-language documentary film L'últim partit: 40 anys de Johan Cruyff a Catalunya was directed by Jordi Marcos, celebrating 40 years since Johan Cruyff signed for Barcelona in August 1973.

Although the number 14 had become a trademark for Cruyff, he could be seen wearing his old number 9 on other occasions, like during most of his career for FC Barcelona, because the league demanded starting players were numbered 1 to 11, or for Netherlands in the 1976 European Championship. In 2007, Ajax retired Cruyff's number 14.


Cruyff retired from international football in October 1977, having helped the national team qualify for the upcoming World Cup. Without him, the Netherlands finished runners-up in the World Cup again. Initially, the reason given for missing the 1978 World Cup were political reasons given a military dictatorship was in power in Argentina at that time. In 2008, Cruyff stated to the journalist Antoni Bassas in Catalunya Ràdio that he and his family were subject to a kidnap attempt in Barcelona a year before the tournament, and that this had caused his retirement. "To play a World Cup you have to be 200% okay, there are moments when there are other values in life."

In 1977, Cruyff announced his decision to retire from international football at the age of 30, despite still being lean and wiry, after helping the country qualify for the 1978 World Cup. This move, shrouded in mystery and met with disbelief back in late 1977, was only finally stripped of its mystique in 2008, when Cruyff explained his decision in an interview with Catalunya Radio. It was while still living in Barcelona as a player in late 1977, Cruyff and his family became the victims of an armed attacker who forced his way into his flat in Barcelona. And the man who was then the ultimate football superstar was confronted with the choice between family values and a highly promising World Cup glory at the end of his international career. But for Cruyff, family comes first. In the interview with Catalunya Radio, he said that the attempted kidnap was the reason he decided not to go to the World Cup in Argentina in 1978. As he recalled, "You should know that I had problems at the end of my career as a player here and I don't know if you know that someone [put] a rifle at my head and tied me up and tied up my wife in front of the children at our flat in Barcelona. The children were going to school accompanied by the police. The police slept in our house for three or four months. I was going to matches with a bodyguard. All these things change your point of view towards many things. There are moments in life in which there are other values. We wanted to stop this and be a little more sensible. It was the moment to leave football and I couldn't play in the World Cup after this."


During his time at Barcelona, in a game against Atlético Madrid, Cruyff scored a goal in which he leapt into the air, twisted his body so he was facing away from the goal, and kicked the ball past Miguel Reina in the Atlético goal with his right heel (the ball was at about neck height and had already travelled wide of the far post). The goal was featured in the documentary En un momento dado, in which fans of Cruyff attempted to recreate that moment. The goal has been dubbed Le but impossible de Cruyff (Cruyff's impossible goal). In 1978, Barcelona defeated Las Palmas 3–1, to win the Copa del Rey. Cruyff played two games with Paris Saint-Germain in 1975 during the Paris tournament. He had only agreed because he was a fan of designer Daniel Hechter, who was then president of PSG.

Cruyff briefly retired in 1978. But after losing most of his money in a series of poor investments, including a pig farm, that were counseled by a scam artist, Cruyff and his family came to the United States. As he recalled, "I had lost millions in pig-farming and that was the reason I decided to become a footballer again." Cruyff insisted that his decision to resume his playing career in the United States was pivotal in his career. "It was wrong, a mistake, to quit playing at 31 with the unique talent I possessed", and adding that "Starting from zero in America, many miles away from my past, was one of the best decisions I made. There I learned how to develop my uncontrolled ambitions, to think as a coach and about sponsorship."

Like Dutch football in general until the mid-1960s, Cruyff's early playing career was considerably influenced by coaching philosophy of British/English coaches such as Vic Buckingham. However, his footballing philosophy also shares aspects with the free-flowing style of South American football (Brazilian football in particular) than traditional British/Anglo-Saxon school of football (with distinctively direct, aggressive, heavily athletic, muscular, physical elements in coaching and playing style). However, as Tim Vickery has pointed out, at the 1974 World Cup Cruyff's Netherlands side "rendered South American football obsolete", with the Dutch comfortably defeating Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil on their way to the final: their willingness to press their opponents denied the South American nations' playmakers the time on the ball they were used to having. The effect of this encounter with Total Football on Argentinian and Brazilian football was significant: in Argentina, César Luis Menotti, who became coach of the national team after the 1974 World Cup exit, sought to combine the traditional Argentine passing game with a faster tempo of play, emphasising relatively small but hard-working players like Osvaldo Ardiles in leading the national team to victory on home soil in the 1978 World Cup. Whilst Brazil attempted to implement a Total Football philosophy without success in 1978 under coach Cláudio Coutinho before reverting to their traditional style in 1982, Brazilian coaches eventually came to believe that they needed to catch up to the Europeans in terms of their physical development, with the gap in physical size being closed by the turn of the millennium: the nature of Brazil's passing game also changed, coming to emphasise quick counter-attacks down the flanks rather than long passing sequences.

Cruyff was multilingual; British football writer Brian Glanville wrote: "his intelligence off the field as well as on it was quite remarkable. How well I remember seeing Cruyff surrounded by journalists from all over the world in 1978 to whose questions he replied almost casually in a multiplicity of languages. Not only Dutch, but English, French, Spanish and German."


La Masia, Barça's youth academy and talent factory, was among Cruyff's lasting legacy. It was the brainchild of Cruyff. In 1979, he wanted to establish a copy of the Ajax Youth Academy in Barcelona. His proposal was accepted by president Josep Núñez. It was ten years after the inception of the youth program, La Masia, when the young players began to graduate and play for their first team. One of the first graduates, who would later earn international acclaim, was previous Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. On 11 July 2010, Spain won the World Cup final with eight players from Barcelona; seven were from La Masia, and six of them were in the starting line-up: Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, and Pedro. This set a record for the most players to be provided by a club side for a team in a World Cup final. On 10 January 2011, La Masia achieved a record breaking honour becoming the first youth academy to have trained all three finalists for the Ballon d'Or in a single year, with Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi. On 25 November 2012, for the first time in the club's history, away at Levante's Estadi Ciutat de València, Barcelona played with eleven players formed at La Masia. In an English biography of Pep Guardiola, Guillem Balagué writes, "Cruyff introduced some passing drills into Barça's 'arterial' system. And since then, the rondos have been not just a method but a symbol of the club's playing style: of dominating and never losing the ball. Cruyff blended several ideas and concepts and converted them into a philosophy – the seeds of which were planted throughout a club in urgent need of a footballing identity. Until then, the first team of Barcelona had been comfortably living in a world of excuses and enemies, content with their role as victims when faced with Real Madrid, an institution seen from Catalonia as the club of the Establishment", and adding, "Xavi Hernández describes the style in its purest form: 'I pass the ball and move, or I pass the ball and stay where I am. I make myself available to help you; I look at you. I stop, I keep my head up and look, and, above all, I open up the pitch. Whoever has the ball is running play. That comes from the school of Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola. This is Barça.'" On the legacy of Cruyff's football philosophy and the passing style of play he introduced to the club, former Barcelona manager Guardiola stated, "Cruyff built the cathedral, our job is to maintain and renovate it." One of the most famous La Masia graduates, Xavi, said, "He [Cruyff] changed the idiosyncrasy of the club. He introduced the philosophy to keep the ball, to play in triangles, to attack. That philosophy remains true to this day. We're all students of Cruyff and his school of thought."

In 1979, Cruyff was reaching the twilight of his career in Barcelona. He began to imagine creating a range of footwear himself to challenge the technical and luxury qualities of those on the market beforehand. After a few years of trying and failing to encourage big sportswear brands to take his idea seriously, after all this was quite an unusual ambition of a professional sportsman at the time. Eventually he combined with his close friend, Italian designer Emilio Lazzarini, and using his knowledge he set out to create a technical shoe which managed to balance functionality with elegance. Initially the range was filled with "luxury" indoor football shoes, but they quickly became used as a fashion shoe due to their attractive appearance. And so Cruyff Classics brand was born.


After his spell in the U.S. and his short-lived stay in Spain, Cruyff returned to play in his homeland, rejoining Ajax on 30 November 1980 as "technical advisor" to trainer Leo Beenhakker, Ajax being eighth in the league table at the time after 13 games played. After 34 games, however, Ajax finished the 1980–81 season in second. In December 1981, Cruyff signed a contract extension with Ajax.


At the age of 32, Cruyff signed a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League (NASL). He had previously been rumoured to be joining the New York Cosmos but the deal did not materialize; he played a few exhibition games for the Cosmos. He stayed at the Aztecs for only one season, and was voted NASL Player of the Year. The following season, he moved to play for the Washington Diplomats. He played the whole 1980 campaign for the Diplomats, even as the team was facing dire financial trouble. In May 1981, Cruyff played as a guest player for Milan in a tournament, but was injured. As a result, he missed the beginning of the 1981 NASL soccer season, which ultimately led to Cruyff choosing to leave the team. Cruyff also loathed playing on artificial surfaces, which were common in the NASL at the time.

In January 1981, Cruyff played three friendly matches for FC Dordrecht. Also in January 1981, manager Jock Wallace of English club Leicester City made an attempt to sign Cruyff, and despite negotiations lasting three weeks, in which Cruyff expressed his desire to play for the club, a deal could not be reached. Cruyff instead chose to sign with Spanish Segunda División side Levante.

In March 1981, Cruyff took the field for the first time for Levante. Injuries and disagreements with the administration of the club, however, blighted his spell in the Segunda División, and he only made ten appearances, scoring two goals. Having failed to secure promotion to the first division, a contract with Levante fell through.


In the 1981–82 and 1982–83 seasons, Ajax, along with Cruyff, became league champions. In 1982–83, Ajax won the Dutch Cup (KNVB-Beker). In 1982, he scored a famous goal against Helmond Sport. While playing for Ajax, Cruyff scored a penalty the same way Rik Coppens had done it 25 years earlier. He put the ball down as for a routine penalty kick, but instead of shooting at goal, Cruyff nudged the ball sideways to teammate Jesper Olsen, who in return passed it back to Cruyff to tap the ball into the empty net, as Otto Versfeld, the Helmond goalkeeper, looked on.


Despite his relatively advanced age, Cruyff played all league matches that season except for one. Because of his performance on the field, he was voted as Dutch Footballer of the Year for the fifth time. At the end of the season, the veteran announced his final retirement. He ended his Eredivisie playing career on 13 May 1984 with a goal against PEC Zwolle. Cruyff played his last game in Saudi Arabia against Al-Ahli, bringing Feyenoord back into the game with a goal and an assist.


After retiring from playing, Cruyff followed in the footsteps of his mentor Rinus Michels, coaching a young Ajax side to victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1987 (1–0). In May and June 1985, Cruyff returned to Ajax again. In the 1985–86 season, the league title was lost to Jan Reker's PSV, despite Ajax having a goal difference of +85 (120 goals for, 35 goals against). In the 1985–86 and 1986–87 seasons, Ajax won the KNVB Cup.


The legacy that Cruyff gave Barcelona, however, was about more than just trophies and records, as he gave Barça a winning mentality and footballing identity/ideology that runs through the club till this day. As Barcelona manager, he laid systemic foundations for a prominent school of football: "Barçajax school" or "Barça–Ajax school", as it has been termed by many. The predominant style of play, now known as tiki-taka or tiqui-taca, had been transferred and improved from Ajax to Barça. It was that which has sustained Barcelona since the days of Vic Buckingham, Rinus Michels and Cruyff (as player) in the early 1970s: they were the ideas of Ajax; Total Football, a predominant belief in possession-oriented football with an attack-minded 3–4–3/4–3–3 team formation, rooted in a high offside line, pressing and the interchange of players on the field. When Cruyff became Barcelona's manager in 1988, he reinforced this footballing philosophy. He was also responsible for introducing "rondos" (a circle of players pass the ball to each other, while one in the centre tries to catch it) into the team's training sessions. About Cruyff's lasting influence on Barça's youth academy La Masia, Guillem Balagué noted, "Cruyff demanded changes at the academy and La Masía began regularly producing the players he wanted as well as providing the kids with a sound education, dual ambitions of the Dutch coach and the club. "The player who has come through La Masía has something different from the rest, it's a plus that only comes from having competed in a Barcelona shirt from the time you were a child", says Guardiola. He is talking not only about the understanding of the game and their ability, but about human qualities. The players who go through La Masía are taught to behave with civility and humility. The theory being that, not only is it pleasant to be unassuming, but also if you are humble, you are capable of learning – and the capacity to learn is the capacity to improve. If you aren't capable of learning you won't improve. Since his arrival, Johan had tried and succeeded in convincing the club to train all the junior teams in the same way as the first eleven – and to favour talent over physique."

As Barcelona's manager for nearly a decade, he helped create one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the club and continental football, both in terms of trophies and playing style. When Cruyff took over as manager in 1988, Barcelona were in a situation of severe crisis (the so-called 'Hesperia Mutiny') and debt. In the space of just six years (1988–1994), Cruyff the manager, with his leadership and management skills, turned Barça from the domestic strugglers and perennial underachievers into a truly permanent powerhouse of La Liga and European club football in general. Between 1960 and 1990 the club won just two La Liga titles. In the early 1990s, the rise of Cruyff's Barça also officially marked the end of Real Madrid's era of overwhelming dominance (1960s–1980s) in La Liga history. Jonathan Wilson wrote that "He [Cruyff] was a beautiful, brilliant and inspirational player and that alone would have placed him firmly in the pantheon, but what he did as a coach is unparalleled. When he took over Barcelona in 1988, they had won two league titles in 28 years. Crisis had followed crisis. In the 27 years since, they have won 13 league titles and five Champions Leagues... All with the football of Cruyff." At Barcelona, he assembled the so-called Dream Team with brilliant graduates from La Masia as well as world-class foreign players. He used a mix of Spanish players like Pep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero and Txiki Begiristain while signing international players such as Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov. Under Cruyff's guidance, Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994 and the club's first European Cup in particular. They beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley, with a free kick goal from Dutch international Ronald Koeman. They also won a Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992 and three Supercopa de España trophies. With 11 trophies, Cruyff became the club's most successful manager at that point. He also became the club's longest consecutive serving manager, serving eight years.

There were many nicknames Cruyff had in the Netherlands and Spain, including "Jopie", "Nummer 14", "Het orakel van Betondorp" (the prophet of Betondorp), "El Salvador" (The Saviour), and "El Flaco" (The Skinny One). One of his best known nicknames was "El Salvador" or "The Saviour", a nickname he received during the 1973–74 season and again in 1988, when he helped terminate crisis eras in Barça's history.


Under Cruyff, Barça's "Dream Team" won four La Liga titles in a row (1991–1994), and beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 European Cup Winners' Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley Stadium. On 10 May 1989, goals from Salinas and López Rekarte led Barcelona to a 2–0 victory against Sampdoria. Over 25,000 supporters travelled to Switzerland to support the team. Cruyff's new Barça took home the club's third Cup Winners' Cup. The European Cup dream became a reality on 20 May 1992 at Wembley in London, when Barça beat Sampdoria. Cruyff's last instruction to his players before they stepped onto the pitch was "Salid y disfrutad" (Spanish for "Go out and enjoy it" or "Go out there and enjoy yourselves"). The match went to extra time after a scoreless draw. In the 111th minute, Ronald Koeman's brilliant free kick clinched Barça's first European Cup victory. Twenty-five thousand supporters accompanied the team to Wembley, while one million turned out on the streets of Barcelona to welcome the European champions home. Victories under Cruyff include a 5–0 La Liga win over Real Madrid in El Clásico at the Camp Nou, as well as a 4–0 win against Manchester United in the Champions League. Barcelona won a Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992 and three Supercopa de España, as well as finishing runner-up to Manchester United and Milan in two European finals.


Cruyff used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day prior to undergoing double heart bypass surgery in 1991 while he was the coach of Barcelona, after which he gave up smoking. He also led the anti-smoking campaign developed by the Health Department of the Catalan autonomous government. Cruyff juggled a cigarette pack 16 times in an anti-tobacco video sponsored by the Catalan Department of Health.

Cruyff suffered a heart attack (like his father who died of a heart attack when he was 12) in his early forties. He used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day prior to undergoing double heart bypass surgery in 1991 while he was the coach of Barcelona. Cruyff was forced to immediately give up smoking, and he made an anti-smoking advertisement for the Catalan Department of Health. In the TV spot, Cruyff is dressed like a manager in a long trench coat combined with collared shirt and tie. He juggled a cigarette pack 16 times – using feet, thighs, chest, shoulder, and head like holding up a ball – before volleying it away. Throughout the commercial he speaks in Catalan about the dangers of smoking.

Cruyff had always been a heavy smoker from his boyhood until he underwent an emergency bypass operation in 1991. After giving up smoking following the surgery, he took to sucking lollipops when watching games. He featured in a Catalan health department advert, saying, "Football has given me everything in life, tobacco almost took it all away." After more heart trouble in 1997, he vowed never to coach again (until 2009), though he remained a vocal football critic and analyst.


It was during this period as manager that Cruyff was able to implement his favoured team formation—three mobile defenders; plus one more covering space – becoming, in effect, a defensive midfielder (from Rijkaard, Blind, Silooy, Verlaat, Larsson, Spelbos), two "controlling" midfielders (from Rijkaard, Scholten, Winter, Wouters, Mühren, Witschge) with responsibilities to feed the attack-minded players, one second striker (Bosman, Scholten), two touchline-hugging wingers (from Bergkamp, van't Schip, De Wit, Witschge) and one versatile centre forward (from Van Basten, Meijer, Bosman). So successful was this system that Ajax won the Champions League in 1995 playing Cruyff's system – a tribute to Cruyff's legacy as Ajax coach.

As the manager of AFC Ajax, Cruyff was able to implement his favoured team formation (3–4–3): with three mobile defenders; plus one more covering space – becoming, in effect, a defensive midfielder, two "controlling" midfielders with responsibilities to feed the attack-minded players, one second striker, two touchline-hugging wingers and one versatile centre forward. So successful was this system that Ajax won the Champions League in 1995 playing Cruyff's system. The starting point of his system was always the Total Football doctrine of dominating the game with ball possession. When Manchester United lost against Barcelona in the European Cup in 1994 with 4–0, Sir Alex Ferguson remarked about the system Cruyff was using:


Later in his reign as Barcelona manager, Cruyff suffered a heart attack and was advised to quit coaching by his doctors. He left in 1996, and never took another top job, but his influence did not end there. Though he vowed never to coach again, he remained a vocal football critic and analyst. Cruyff's open support helped candidate Joan Laporta to victory in Barcelona's presidential elections. He continued to be an adviser for him, although he held no official post at Barcelona. Back in an advisory capacity alongside Joan Laporta, he recommended the appointment of Frank Rijkaard in 2003. Again Barca was successful, winning back-to-back league titles and another Champions League crown in 2006.


Cruyff was known for his technical ability, speed, acceleration, dribbling and vision, possessing an awareness of his teammates' positions as an attack unfolded. Despite his relatively unimpressive stature and strength, Cruyff's tactical brain and reading of the game were exceptional. "Football consists of different elements: technique, tactics and stamina", he told the journalists Henk van Dorp and Frits Barend, in one of the interviews collected in their book Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff. "There are some people who might have better technique than me, and some may be fitter than me, but the main thing is tactics. With most players, tactics are missing. You can divide tactics into insight, trust and daring. In the tactical area, I think I just have more than most other players." On the concept of technique in football, Cruyff once said: "Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1,000 times. Anyone can do that by practising. Then you can work in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your team mate." As Van Basten noted, "Johan is so technically perfect that even as a boy he stopped being interested in that aspect of the game. He could do everything when he was 20. That's why he's been very interested in tactics since he was very young. He sees football situations so clearly that he was always the one to decide how the game should be played." In 1997, Dutch journalist Hubert Smeets wrote, "Cruyff was the first player who understood that he was an artist, and the first who was able and willing to collectivise the art of sports." Sports writer David Miller believed that Cruyff was superior to any previous player in his ability to extract the most from others. He dubbed him "Pythagoras in boots" for the complexity and precision of his passes and wrote, "Few have been able to exact, both physically and mentally, such mesmeric control on a match from one penalty area to another."


In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll. He came third in a vote organised by the French magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect their Football Player of the Century. He was elected the third-best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the World Soccer magazine. Cruyff was also chosen on the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.


In November 2003, Cruyff invoked legal proceedings against the publisher Tirion Uitgevers, over its photo book Johan Cruyff de Ajacied ("Johan Cruijff the Ajax player"), which used photographs by Guus de Jong. Cruyff was working on another book, also using De Jong's photographs, and claimed unsuccessfully that Tirion's book violated his trademark and portrait rights.


In 2004, a public poll in the Netherlands to determine the greatest Dutchman ("De Grootste Nederlander") named Cruyff the 6th-greatest Dutchman of all time, with Cruyff finishing above Rembrandt (9th) and Vincent van Gogh (10th). In 2010, the asteroid (minor planet) 14282 Cruijff (2097 P-L) was named after him. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially ratified the naming of Cruijff on 23 September 2010. After Josef Bican and Ferenc Puskás, Cruyff is the third football player to have an asteroid named after him.


British rock band The Hours recorded a song called "Love You More" in 2007. In it lead singer Antony Genn described his partner as "Better than Elvis in his '68 comeback, Better than Cruyff in '74..", In an interview with German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in 2008, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was discussing the upcoming Euro 2008, she praised Cruyff's performance at the 1974 World Cup: "Cruyff really impressed me. I think I wasn't the only one in Europe." Cruyff stood out at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany which Merkel watched from her then home country East Germany.


After two relatively disappointing campaigns, Laporta survived a censure motion and an overhaul was needed. In summer 2008, Rijkaard left the club and even though José Mourinho was pushing for the job at Camp Nou, Cruyff chose Pep Guardiola. Many were quick to point to Guardiola's lack of coaching experience, but Cruyff said, "The biggest test for a coach at a team like Barça is the strength to make decisions and the ability to talk to the press, because they don't help and you have to manage that. After that, it's easy for those who know football. But there aren't many who know."

On 20 February 2008, in the wake of a major research on the ten-year-mismanagement, it was announced that Cruyff would be the new technical director at his boyhood club Ajax, his fourth stint with the Amsterdam club. Cruyff announced in March that he was pulling out of his planned return to Ajax because of "professional difference of opinion" between him and Ajax's new manager, Marco van Basten. Van Basten said that Cruyff's plans were "going too fast", because he was "not so dissatisfied with how things are going now".


On 2 November 2009, Cruyff was named as manager of the Catalonia national team. It was his first managing job for 13 years. On 22 December 2009, they played a friendly game against Argentina, which ended in a Catalonia win, 4–2 at Camp Nou. On 28 December 2010, Catalonia played a friendly against Honduras winning 4–0 at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys. On 30 December 2011, Catalonia played Tunisia in a goalless draw at the Lluís Companys. In their last game under Cruyff, on 2 January 2013, Catalonia drew with Nigeria at the Cornellà-El Prat, 1–1.

In September 2009, Cruyff and Ruud Gullit were unveiled as ambassadors for the Belgium–Netherlands joint bid for the World Cup finals in 2018 or 2022 at the official launch in Eindhoven.

Cruyff is sometimes described as a typical kind of 'artist-footballer' or 'footballer-thinker' who considers football, the so-called 'beautiful game', not a purely athletic/physical competition but an artistic-oriented mind-body game. Because of his distinctive footballing views, Cruyff was called 'the Spinoza of football' by some. He believed in a certain style of play, which has the power to put a smile on the people's faces as he described it. When Cruyff, both as a player and as a manager, spoke about football he often mentioned the entertainment value of the game, that there is more to it than winning. In a 2009 interview with Sportmail's Martin Samuel, Arsène Wenger, as a devout follower of Cruyff's footballing ideology, once shared his opinion about football's artistic value,

The Johan Cruyff Foundation has provided over 200 Cruyff Courts in 22 countries, including Israel, Malaysia, Japan, United States and Mexico, for children of all backgrounds to play street football together. UEFA praised the foundation for its positive effect on young people, and Cruyff received the UEFA Grassroots Award on the opening of the 100th court in late 2009. In 1999, he founded the Johan Cruyff Institute with a program for 35 athletes as part of the Johan Cruyff University of Amsterdam and has since become a global network.


On 26 March 2010, Cruyff was named honorary president of Barcelona in recognition of his contributions to the club as both a player and manager. In July 2010, however, he was stripped of this title by new president Sandro Rosell.


On 11 February 2011, Cruyff returned to Ajax on an advisory basis after agreeing to become a member of one of three "sounding board groups". After presenting his plans to reform the club, in particular to rejuvenate the youth academy, the Ajax board of advisors and the CEO resigned on 30 March 2011. On 6 June 2011, he was appointed to the new Ajax board of advisors to implent his reform plans.

Referring to the influence of his style of play at Ajax, Barcelona ("Dream Team"), and with the Netherlands ("Total Football"), in addition to the 200 Cruyff Courts he set up around the world for kids to hone their skills, football journalist Graham Hunter states, "Johan Cruyff is, pound for pound, the most important man in the history of football." In his 2011 book, Barça: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, Hunter writes,

In an interview in 2011, when Argentina's 1978 World Cup-winning coach César Luis Menotti was discussing Lionel Messi's place in the pantheon of footballing greatness, he mentioned Cruyff in the same breath as Pelé and Maradona: "There have been four kings of football – Di Stéfano, Pelé, Cruyff and Maradona – and the fifth has not yet appeared. We are awaiting the fifth, and it is sure to be Messi, but so far he is not among the kings. You can't give him the crown after five years." Several notable figures in the world of football such as Arsène Wenger, Michel Platini, Eric Cantona, Marco van Basten, Michael Laudrup, Emilio Butragueño, Rafael Benítez, and Joan Laporta once revealed that they considered Cruyff as their "childhood hero", "idol", or "inspiration". Arrigo Sacchi, Arsène Wenger, Carlos Alberto Torres, Telê Santana, and Marcelo Bielsa were among the great admirers of Cruyff-inspired Dutch school of Total Football. Over the past years, several footballing starlets were dubbed the 'new Johan Cruyff', including Kaká, Luka Modrić, Shinji Kagawa, and Adnan Januzaj.

Cruyff was regarded by many as one of the few truly great players who made the transition to being a great manager as well. His greatness was summed up by the former Dutch international Johan Neeskens, "If you look at the greatest players in history, most of them couldn't coach. If you look at the greatest coaches in history, most of them were not great players. Johan Cruyff did both – and in such an exhilarating style." Cruyff is undisputedly regarded as one of the greatest and most influential managers in history of the game, despite his top-level coaching career only lasted 11 years with two clubs. In July 2011, website Football Pantheon included him on its list of the top 50 greatest managers of all time. However, Cruyff's coaching legacy was about not just trophies and records but also the style and identity.

Until the early 2010s, Barcelona had mounting debts, built up over the previous few seasons, a situation that forced the club to push through an emergency bailout loan of €150 million. The Qatar Foundation, run by Sheikha Mozah, became the first shirt sponsor in Barcelona's 111-year history. The club had previously used UNICEF's logo on the front of its shirts. In 2011, incoming Barcelona president Sandro Rosell agreed the deal for a period of five seasons, with the club receiving €30 million each year, starting on 1 July 2011 and running until 30 June 2016, plus bonuses for trophies won that could total €5m. Writing in his El Periodico column, Cruyff slammed the deal, "We are a unique club in the world, no one has kept their jersey intact throughout their history, yet have remained as competitive as they come... We have sold this uniqueness for about six percent of our budget. I understand that we are currently losing more than we are earning. However, by selling the shirt it shows me that we are not being creative, and that we have become vulgar."


The Ajax advisory board made a verbal agreement with Louis van Gaal to appoint him as the new CEO, without consulting Cruyff. Cruyff, a fellow board member, took Ajax to court in an attempt to block the appointment. The court overturned the appointment, saying that the board had "deliberately put Cruyff offside". Due to the ongoing quarrel within the advisory board, Cruyff resigned on 10 April 2012, with Ajax stating that Cruyff will "remain involved with the implementation of his football vision within the club".

Cruyff became a technical advisor for Mexican club Guadalajara in February 2012. Jorge Vergara, the owner of the club, made him the team's sport consultant in response to the losing record Guadalajara sustained in the last few months of 2011. Although signed to a three-year contract, Cruyff's contract was terminated December 2012 after just nine months with the club. Guadalajara said that other members of the team's coaching staff would likely not be terminated.


In February 2014, President of Israel Shimon Peres, at his residence in Jerusalem, welcomed Cruyff and praising his foundation's dedication to peace, "People remember very well that not only were you an outstanding football player but that you gave football a social content, you made it an educational process. You are a role model. Football is one of the great ways to make peace among people. When a player like you arrives in our country the eyes of the children light up—Jewish, Arab or Muslim."

In an interview with The Guardian's Donald McRae in 2014, Cruyff spoke about football's lost values and how money had eroded the game's purity, "Football is now all about money. There are problems with the values within the game. This is sad because football is the most beautiful game. We can play it in the street. We can play it everywhere. Everyone can play it whether you're tall or small, fat or thin. But those values are being lost. We have to bring them back."


In October 2015 he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After the news broke, tributes poured in for Cruyff, with all Eredivisie games featuring a round of applause on 14 minutes, Cruyff's former shirt number. Ahead of their league game against Eibar at the Camp Nou (25 October 2015), Barcelona players showed their support for Cruyff by wearing orange T-shirts bearing the words 'Ànims Johan' (Catalan for 'Get well soon Johan'). Writing in his weekly De Telegraaf column, Cruyff admitted, "Often the media are an additional tax, but the last week that has been different. The way in which a reply is posted via a variety of media in my situation, was emotional and heartwarming. I am extremely proud of the appreciation shown by all responses." On his condition, Cruyff added, "Meanwhile, we have to wait. It's really annoying that it has been leaked so quickly, because the only thing I know now is that I have lung cancer. No more. Because the investigation is ongoing."


In mid February 2016, he stated that he had been responding well to chemotherapy and was "winning" his cancer battle. On 2 March 2016, he was in attendance on the second day of winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside Barcelona and visited Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen. Cruyff appeared to be in good spirits and it is believed this was the last time he was seen in public. On the morning of 24 March 2016, in a clinic in Barcelona, Cruyff died at the age of 68, surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren. His lung cancer had metastasized to his brain and a week before his death he had begun to lose his ability to speak as well as movement on his left side. He was cremated in Barcelona within 24 hours following his death. A private ceremony was held, attended only by his wife (Danny), children (Chantal, Susila, and Jordi), and grandchildren.


In 2018, Cruyff was added as an icon to the Ultimate Team in EA Sports' FIFA video game FIFA 19, receiving a 94 rating. British sportswriter David Winner's 2000 book on Dutch football, Brilliant Orange, mentions Cruyff frequently. In the book, Dutch football's ideas (in particular Cruyff's) effectively related to the use of space in Dutch painting and Dutch architecture.

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Currently, Johan Cruyff is 75 years, 5 months and 4 days old. Johan Cruyff will celebrate 76th birthday on a Tuesday 25th of April 2023.

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