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Johan Cruyff

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Hendrik Johannes Cruijff (Johan Cruijff) - frequently spelled Cruyff outside the Netherlands; see IJ (digraph)); born April 25, 1947 in Amsterdam) is a Dutch football manager/coach and past player. He was titled European Footballer of the Year three times (1971, 1973, 1974) which is a record jointly held with Michel Platini and Marco van Basten. Cruijff was the most well known exponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football, developed by Rinus Michels.///

After his retirement from playing in 1984, Cruijff became highly successful as manager of Ajax and later FC Barcelona; he remains an influential advisor to both clubs.

In 1999, Cruijff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the IFFHS, and came second, behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll. He came third, behind Pelé and Diego Maradona, in a vote organised by the French weekly magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect their Football Player of the Century.

Style of play

Comment "Does not matter what others may think of johan, in my opinion he is the best and most influential player this world has ever seen."

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Through his career Cruijff 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 his or her intended outfield role; anyone can be successively an attacker, a midfielder and a defender. The style was honed by Ajax coach Rinus Michels around the time Cruijff came to prominence.

Strictly speaking, Cruijff played centre forward in this system. But he would drop deep to confuse his markers or suddenly move to the wing with devastating effect. No one had seen a centre forward like that before. Due to the way Cruijff played his game he is still referred to as "the total footballer."

Johan Cruyff soccer player at Ajax


Johan Cruyff

Cruijff was known for his technical ability, speed and acceleration, but his greatest quality was vision, based on an acute sense of his team-mates' positions as an attack unfolded. The sports writer David Miller believed Cruijff 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 angled 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."

Cruijff also perfected a move now known as the "Cruijff Turn". To do this move, Cruijff would look to pass or cross the ball. However, instead of kicking it, he would drag the ball behind his planted foot with the inside of his other foot and turn through 180 degrees and accelerate away outside a defender.

Personal information
Full name Hendrik Johannes Cruijff
Date of birth April 25, 1947 (1947-04-25) (age 60)
Place of birth    Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Striker,
Second striker,
Youth clubs
1959-1964 Ajax
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
FC Barcelona
Los Angeles Aztecs
Washington Diplomats
240 (190)
143 0(48)
028 0(14)
032 0(12)
010 00(2)
036 0(14)
033 0(11)
522 (291)   
National team
1966-1978 Netherlands 048 0(33)
Teams managed
FC Barcelona
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Playing career

Cruijff played for Ajax, FC Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante UD and Feyenoord.


Cruijff joined Ajax on his 10th birthday. 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, 13th. Cruijff really started to make an impression in the 1965-1966 season. Cruijff established himself as a regular first team player after scoring two goals against DWS in the Olympic stadion on 24 October 1965 (in a 2-0 victory). In the seven games that winter he scored eight times and in March 1966 he scored the first 3 goals in a league game against Telstar (6-2 win). Four days later, in a cup game against BV Veendam (7-0 win), he scored 4 goals. In total that season, Cruijff scored 25 goals in 23 games, and Ajax won the league championship.

In 1966-1967 Ajax again won the league championship, but also won the KNVB Cup, for Cruijff's first "double". Cruijff ended the season as the leading goalscorer in the Eredivisie with 33.

Cruijff won the league for the third successive year in the 1967-1968 season. He was also named Dutch footballer of the year for the second successive time, a feat he would repeat in 1969. On 28 May 1969 Cruijff played in his first European Cup final against AC Milan, but the Italian team ended up winning 4-1.

In the 1969-1970 season Cruijff won his second league and cup "double", but at the beginning of the 1970-1971 season Cruijff suffered a long-term groin injury. He made his comeback on 30 October 1970 against PSV. In this game he did not wear his usual number 9 which was in use by Gerrie Mühren, but instead used number 14. Ajax won the game 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 Cruijff's number was 14, even using the number with the Dutch national team. There has even been a documentary on Cruijff titled Nummer 14 Johan Cruijff and in his native Holland there is a magazine by Voetbal International titled "Nummer 14".

In a league game against AZ '67 on 29 November 1970 Cruijff scored no less than six goals in an 8-1 victory. After winning a replayed KNVB Cup final against Sparta Rotterdam (2-1), Ajax won in Europe for the first time. On 2 June 1971 in London they won the European Cup by defeating Panathinaikos 2-0. In spite of speculation that Cruijff would move to another club (Feyenoord and Barcelona were interested) on 12 July 1971 he signed a seven-year contract at Ajax. At the end of the season he became not only the Dutch, but also the European Footballer of the Year for 1971.

Cruyff as coach of the Catalonia team in 2009


Johan Cruyff in 2009

1972 was a particular successful year for Ajax and Cruijff. Ajax won a second European Cup, beating Internazionale 2-0 in the final, with Cruijff 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, Cruijff not only pulled Internazionale of Italy apart in the 1972 European Cup Final, but scored both goals in Ajax's 2-0 win." Cruijff also scored in the 3-2 victory over FC Den Haag in the KNVB Cup final. In the league Cruijff was the topscorer with 25 goals as Ajax became champions. In the autumn Ajax won the Intercontinental Cup beating Argentina's Independiente (1-1 and 3-0) and then in January 1973 they won the European Super Cup by beating Rangers 3-1 away and 3-2 in Amsterdam. Curiously Cruijff's first (and last) own goal came on 20 August 1972 against FC Amsterdam. A week later against Go Ahead Eagles (6-0) Cruijff scored four times for Ajax. The 1972-1973 season was concluded with the another league championship victory and a third successive Europe Cup.

In the summer of 1973 Cruijff was sold to FC Barcelona for 6 million guilder (approx. US$ 2 million, c.1973). 19-8-1973 he played his last match for Ajax (Ajax-FC Amsterdam 6-1), the 2nd match of the 1973/1974 season.


At Barcelona, Cruijff quickly won over the Barça fans when he told the European press he chose Barça over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with Franco. He further endeared himself when he chose a Catalan name, Jordi, for his son. He helped the club win La Liga for the first time since 1960, along the way defeating Real Madrid 5-0 at their home of Bernabéu. He was also crowned European Footballer of the Year at club.

During his time at Barcelona Cruijff scored one of his most famous goals, The 'Phantom' Goal. In a game against Atlético Madrid Cruijff leapt into the air, twisted his body so he was facing away from the goal and kicked the ball past the Atlético Madrid goalkeeper with his right heel (the ball was at about neck height and had already travelled past the far post), the goal was featured in the documentary En un momento dado in which fans of Cruijff attempted to recreate that moment, the goal has been dubbed Le but d'Imposible de Cruyff (The Impossible goal of Cruijff).

United States

At the age of 32 he 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 materialise. However, he did play exhibition games for the Cosmos. He stayed at the Aztecs for only one season, but was voted NASL Player of the Year in that time. The following season he moved to play for the Washington Diplomats; he played the whole 1980 campaign for Washington, leaving soon after the start of the 1981 season.

Back in the Netherlands

After his spell in the USA and a short-lived stay at Levante in Spain Cruijff returned to play in his homeland, rejoining Ajax 30 November 1980 as "technical advisor" of trainer Leo Beenhakker, Ajax being 8th in the ranking of the table of the Dutch League then after 13 rounds. Ajax would finish 2nd in 1980-1981 in June 1981 after round 34. March 1981 Cruijff started to play for Levante Union Deportiva Valencia, a Spanish 2nd League club. The club did not keep the financial agreements however. May 1981 Cruyff played as a guest player for AC Milan a tournament, getting injured. As a result he missed almost the entire American soccer season thereafter. In December 1981 Cruijff signed a new contract as player for Ajax. His already since November 1980 expected return was on December 6th 1981 against Haarlem (4-1 home win), Cruijff scored the first goal. In the seasons 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 Ajax with Cruijff became brilliant league champions, 1982-1983 Ajax also won the Dutch Cup (KNVB-Beker). One notable incident from this era was a famous goal he scored against Helmond Sport in 1982 while playing for Ajax. Cruijff put the ball down as for a routine penalty kick, but instead of shooting at goal, Cruijff nudged the ball sideways to his Ajax teammate Jesper Olsen who in return passed it back to Cruijff who tapped the ball into the empty net, as Otto Versfeld, the bemused Helmond goalkeeper, looked on. At the end of the 1982-83 season Ajax decided not to offer Cruijff a new contract. This angered Cruijff, who responded by signing for Ajax's archrivals Feyenoord. Cruijff'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 cup double.

International football

As a Dutch international he played 48 matches, scoring 33 goals. In his second Dutch national team match, a friendly against Czechoslovakia, Cruijff was the first Dutch international to receive a red card. He received a one-year suspension from the Dutch KNVB.

Accusations of Cruijff's 'aloofness' were not rebuffed by his habit of wearing a shirt with only two black stripes along the sleeves, as opposed to Adidas' usual design feature of three, worn by all the other Dutch players. Cruijff, however, had a separate sponsorship deal with Puma.

Cruijff led the Netherlands to a runners-up medal in the 1974 FIFA World Cup and was named the 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. Cruijff himself 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 Netherlands faced hosts West Germany in the final. Cruijff kicked off and the ball was passed around the Oranje thirteen times before returning to Cruijff, who then went on a rush that eluded Berti Vogts and ended when he was fouled by Uli Hoeneß inside the box. Teammate Neeskens scored from the spot kick to give the Netherlands a 1-0 lead, and the Germans had not even touched the ball. Only during the latter half of the final was his playmaking influence stifled by the effective marking of Berti Vogts, while Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeneß and Wolfgang Overath dominated the midfield, enabling West Germany to win 2-1. Cruijff received a yellow card during half time for talking to the referee.

Cruijff retired from international football in October 1977, having helped the national team qualify for the upcoming World Cup. He refused to participate in the tournament finals in Argentina because it had suffered a military coup only two years earlier, and he refused to play in a country where he believed torture and murder to be perpetrated by the junta. Without him, the Netherlands finished runners-up in the World Cup again.

Managerial career


After retiring from playing, Cruijff followed in the footsteps of his mentor Rinus Michels, coaching a young Ajax side to victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1987 (final: Ajax-Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0, goal: Marco van Basten). May/June 1985 Cruijff returned to Ajax again. In the season 1985/1986 the league title is lost to PSV, despite Ajax having a goal difference of +85 (120-35). In the seasons 1985-1986 and 1986-1987 Ajax won the Dutch Cup (KNVB-Beker). In 1988 Cruijff returned to Barcelona as manager.

It was during this period as manager that Cruyff was able to implement his favoured team formation. 3 mobile centre halves and 1 covering space, almost a holding midfielder rather than sweeper (from Boeve, Blind, Silooy, Spelbos). 2 controlling midfielders (from Winter, Wouters, Muhren, Witchsge). 1 support striker (Bosman, Scholten). 2 wingers (from Bergkamp, van't Schip, De Wit, Dick) and 1 centre forward (Van Basten). So successful was this system that Ajax won the Champions League in 1995 playing Cruyff's system. Terry Venables as England manager was an advocate of this system, based on free-flowing football and intelligent and incisive individuals carrying out seemingly simple functions, in the Euro 96 semi-final versus Germany England used this system effectively.


At Barcelona Cruijff brought in players such as Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Beguiristáin, Goikoetxea, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov. Under Cruijff, Barcelona won La Liga four times between 1991 and 1994, and beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 European Cup Winners' Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley. They also won a Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992 and three Supercopa de España.

Cruijff used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day prior to undergoing double heart bypass surgery in 1991 while he was the coach of FC Barcelona, after which he gave up smoking and began chain-sucking Chupa Chups lollipops instead. He also led the anti-smoking campaign developed by the Health Department of the Catalan autonomous government.

With 11 trophies, Cruijff has been Barcelona's most successful manager to date, as well as being the club's longest serving manager. However, in his final two seasons, he failed to win any trophies, and fell out with chairman Josep Lluís Núñez; this resulted in his departure from the club, and he vowed never to coach again.

While at Barcelona, he was in negotiations with the KNVB to manage the national team for the 1994 World Cup finals, but talks broke off at the last minute.

His open support helped candidate Joan Laporta to victory in FC Barcelona's latest presidential elections. He continues to be an adviser for him, although he holds no official post at FC Barcelona.

Cruijff is revered at Nou Camp as 'El Salvador' (The Saviour) for his successful career as player and coach.


As player

  •  Ajax
    • Eredivisie: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970. 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983
    • KNVB Cup: 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1983
    • European Cup: 1971, 1972, 1973
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1972
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1972, 1973
  •  FC Barcelona
    • La Liga: 1974
    • Copa del Rey: 1978
  •  Feyenoord
    • Eredivisie: 1984
    • KNVB Cup: 1984

As manager

  •  Ajax
    • KNVB Cup: 1986, 1987
    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1987
  •  FC Barcelona
    • Copa del Rey: 1990
    • La Liga: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1989
    • European Cup: 1992
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1992

Further honours

In 1996 the Dutch Supercup was named after him: Johan Cruijff-schaal.

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of the Netherlands by the KNVB as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.

On May 22, 2006, Cruijff was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to football by Laureus in their annual World Sports Awards.

Cruijff also received a lifetime achievement award from the KNVB in August 2006.

In 2006 Cruijff played in Dennis Bergkamp's Testimonial as a second-half substitute with Ajax

On April 18, 2007, Ajax decided to retire the number 14 shirt in honour of Johan Cruijff and in celebration of his birthday.


On 2 December 1968 Cruijff married Danny Coster. Johan and Danny have 3 children: Chantal (16 November 1970), Susila (27 January 1972) and Jordi (9 February 1974). The family lives in Barcelona.

His son, Jordi, has played for teams such as FC Barcelona (while his father was manager), Manchester United and Alavés. Interestingly, the younger Cruijff sports "Jordi" on his shirt to distinguish himself from his famous father (this also reflects the common Spanish practice of referring to players by given names alone or by nicknames).

References and Notes

Wiki Source


Does not matter what others may think of johan, in my opinion he is the best and most influential player this world has ever seen. There are players who come close to his amazing speed, close control, deft touch not to mention his sublime passing ability and vision, but none can match his overall contribution to this game. A most gifted artist with the ball at his feet......
The best player without a shadow of a doubt is Johann cryuff for his supreme skills, technical ability with the ball to execute a pass few if any has the vision to see, his reading of the game and most of all his devastating speed to move at will or to glide and dribble pass players as if they were none existent in the first place.....

I love his moves!!! He's my favourite - thanks for your help.

The best complete player the world have ever seen.

is only the best

The master of total football!

not better than rinaldo

The only reason why Johan isn't said to be the best player in the world is because he hasn't won any world cups, but as an individual he is undoubtedly the best player ever

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