Nick Name: El Flaco
Birthday: April 25, 1947
Died At Age: 68
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Hendrik Johannes Cruijff
Born in: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Famous as: Football player
Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Danny Coster
father: Hermanus Cornelis Cruijff
mother: Petronella Bernarda Draaijer
children: Chantal Cruijff, Jordi Cruyff, Susila Cruijff
Died on: March 24, 2016
place of death: Barcelona, Spain
Cause of Death: Lung Cancer
City: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Who was Johan Cruyff?
Johan Cruyff was a Dutch footballer and football manager, who is often regarded as one of the finest footballers and managers that has ever been involved with the game. He had a profound effect on modern football throughout his career as a top level professional. Cruyff started off his career at Ajax and by the time he was 18 he had become the star of the country’s biggest team. He led Ajax to numerous league titles and three straight European Cups to emerge as the best footballer in the world in late 1960s and early 1970s. Subsequently, he went to Barcelona and helped transform the mentality at the club by bringing a free flowing style to their football. As a manager, Cruyff managed both Ajax and Barcelona, but it was at the latter club that he had the biggest influence as he won them plenty of trophies, built a team that was the envy of the world and last but certainly not the least, created a philosophy of football that helped the club become one of the powerhouses of modern football. Johan Cruyff will surely be remembered as one of the greatest footballers and football tacticians to have ever graced the game.
Childhood & Early Life
Hendrik Johannes Cruijff, better known as Johan Cruyff, was born on 25 April, 1947 in Amsterdam, Netherlands to Hermanus Cornelis Cruijff and his wife Petronella Bernarda Draaijer. The family had modest means but Cruyff’s father was a keen follower of football and encouraged him to play as much football as he could.
He was an enthusiastic footballer right from his childhood and played with his school friends and entered the Ajax youth ranks as a 10 year old. His father died when he was only 12, and he wanted to become a footballer in memory of his father.
He progressed through the youth ranks at Ajax pretty quickly and by the time the season started in 1965, he established himself in the senior team by scoring regularly. Cruyff returned a tally of 25 goals in the season as Ajax ended up the league champions.
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Following his breakthrough season with Ajax in 1965, he continued to be the main goals scorer at the club and helped the club win the league title in each of the next two seasons. Four years after first becoming a part of the team, Cruyff went to play the European Cup final for Ajax but the club ended as runners up to AC Milan.
In 1966, he made his debut for the Dutch national team and played a total of 48 matches scoring 33 goals. In the 1974 World Cup, he scored 5 goals as the team ended as the runners up at the World Cup and he was named player of the tournament. The ‘Total Football’ played by the Dutch team was revolutionary and Cruyff was instrumental in the whole system.
In 1970, he helped Ajax win the Dutch league as well as the league cup and the following year he helped the club win the coveted European Cup. Cruyff scored a brace in the following year’s European Cup final against Italian club Inter Milan to help Ajax win the tournament. That final also marked the triumph of ‘Total Football’ as Cruyff completely dominated one of Europe’s most defensive teams.
He helped Ajax win 6 league titles during his 9 year stint at the club and in his last season, which ended in 1973, he rounded it off by helping the club win the third European Cup on the trot. Cruyff scored 250 goals across all competitions and made Ajax the best club in Europe. At the end of the season, he moved to Spanish club Barcelona, who paid a world record fee for his services.
He became one of the most important ever signings at Barcelona when he helped the club win the league title in his very first season that ended in 1974 and ended a fourteen year wait for the league titles at the club. He also orchestrated a 5-0 win against Real Madrid in Madrid to cement his place as one of Barcelona’s greatest players. During his five seasons at the club, he scored 48 league goals in 143 games.
He decided to part with Barcelona after being offered a lucrative contract by the Los Angeles Aztecs in the United States in 1979 but the following season he played for Washington Diplomats. After two years in the US, Cruyff played 10 games for Spanish club Levante and subsequently returned to Ajax.
Cruyff rejoined Ajax in 1980 and the following two seasons he helped the club win two back to back league titles. The following season, he joined Ajax’s rival Feyenoord since he had not been offered a new contract and duly led his new club to victory in the Dutch league and the league cup. He ended his career at Feyenoord.
In 1985, he started his career as a manager with his old club Ajax and won the Dutch Cup at the end of his first season. The following season Ajax won the Dutch Cup again and it was during his times as manager of Ajax that he developed his celebrated system that was heavily concentrated on quick attacking play complemented by ball playing defenders, controlling midfielders and the lone forward. After spending three years at Ajax, he took over at Barcelona as the manager.
Three years after taking over as the manager of Barcelona, Johan Cruyff won his first league title in 1991 and followed it up with the European Cup as well as league title wins in each of the next three seasons. He built one of history’s most celebrated teams known as the ‘Dream Team’ which included players like Romario, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov and Pep Guardiola among others. He left Barcelona after eight years following mounting tensions with the club’s management and remains the second most successful manager of the club with 11 trophies.
He became an advisor to Ajax in 2011 but his tenure ended the following year when he resigned following troubles with the club’s management. Cruyff did not want Louis van Gaal to be appointed as the CEO of the club and challenged the appointment in court. The club had stated that they wanted to implement the recommendations of Cruyff in order to improve the fortunes of the club. Subsequently, he served the Mexican club Club Deportivo Guadalajara as an advisor for nine months.
Awards & Achievements
He is regarded a great footballer and manager and touched many milestones throughout his career. However, his achievement is without doubt his managerial stint at Barcelona from 1988 to 1996 during which he completely transformed the club and created the basis of one of the most successful clubs in the world.
Johan Cruyff won the Ballon D’Or in 1971.
He won the Ballon D’Or in 1973 for the 2nd time and followed it up with his 3rd win in the following year.
He was named the player of the tournament in the FIFA World Cup 1974.
Personal Life & Legacy
He got married to Danny Coster on 2 December, 1968. The couple has two daughters - Chantal and Susila and a son - Jordi. Jordi Cruyff went on to become a professional footballer.
Johan Cruyff died of lung cancer on 24 March 2016, in Barcelona, Spain, at the age of 68.