Iconic Dutch midfielder John Cruyff has died today (24 March) after his short battle with cancer. In February the 68 year-old said that he felt that he was ‘”2-0 up in a match” against lung cancer, so it comes as a shock to the footballing world that he has passed away so soon.
The three-time Ballon d’ Or winner was told of his illness in October. He was surrounded by his family in Barcelona today. The former Ajax and Barcelona forward was at the forefront of the Total Football movement that propelled the Netherlands into one of the major players in international football as they were runners-up in consecutive World Cups (1974 and 1978). It was also successful continentally as Ajax won three consecutive European Cups from 1970-73.
Cruyff also managed Barcelona for eight years. Under his tutelage he assembled the “dream team” that consisted of Gheorghe Hagi, Ronald Koeman, Romario, MIchael Laudrup, Andoni Zubizarreta, Pep Guardiola and Hristo Stoichkov. During his managerial spell at Barca he captured their first European Cup in 1992 and won four consecutive La Liga titles.
Guardiola, manager of Bayern Munich said of the Dutchman’s innovative influence on him; “throughout my career I’ve simply tried to instil what I learned from Johan Cruyff. He has the biggest influence on football out of anyone in the world, first as a player and then as a coach.” He added; “Johan Cruyff built the cathedral, our job is to maintain and renovate it.
Cruyff’s legacy will always live on, not only did he influence teams from his homeland and Barcelona. He also inadvertently aided the Spanish national team’s dominance from 2008-12.