The Best: Johan Cruyff

Born: Amsterdam 25 April 1947

Position: Midfield

Club(s): Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztes, Washington Diplomats, Ajax, Feyenoord

Country: Netherlands

International Caps: 48

International Goals: 33

Dutch master Cruyff was not just a footballer, he was a football philosopher.

Stylishly known for playing ‘Total Football’ and for even having his own turn named after him, this thin leggy floppy haired midfield playmaker was the main pivot in the famous Ajax and Dutch national teams during the 1960’s & 1970’s.

Often outspoken, Cruyff always had an opinion because his opinion really did count. He knew he could make a difference and he did make a difference, not only in winning matches and winning trophies, but in having a huge hand in the way that the game was played not just then but thereafter. A forward thinker that thought innovatively in not only his own style but in his teams style of play. Cruyff was a leader both on and off the pitch.

Amsterdam born Cruyff joined Ajax as a schoolboy and made his debut in 1964 and would win six league titles, four Dutch Cups and three back to back European Cups prior to a world record transfer to Barcelona.

Whilst at Barcelona it was with the Holland National team that Cruyff would come closest to World Cup glory in 1974. Leading the Netherlands to the final against West Germany they would be beaten in Munich after lighting up the tournament with their unique style of play.

Cruyff only once won La Liga at Barcelona and retired from international football in 1977 after a kidnap attempt on his family would be years later revealed.

A year later aged 32 Cruyff moved to USA and played for the LA Aztecs before the Washington Diplomats before a short stint at Levante in Spain.

Cruyff returned to Ajax in 1981 and remarkably helped his side win back to back league titles. After being refused a new contract he joined Feyenoord in 1983 and won the league and cup double in his final season as a player.

In all Cruyff scored 290 goals in 519 league games and assisted many more playing as deep lying number nine that had the freedom and movement to go where he wanted. Technically gifted with a swagger and posture Cruyff was almost nonchalant in possession and made everything look easy.

He became a Manager in 1985 and lead Ajax to the European Cup Winners Cup and re-joined Barcelona where he won four league titles and the Champions League for the first time in the clubs history.

Cruyff died in 2016 aged 68 a year after being diagnosed with lung cancer. His number 14 shirt symbolic with a career that stood out as one of the best there has ever been.

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