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
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
"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."
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.
||Hendrik Johannes Cruijff
|Date of birth
||April 25, 1947 (1947-04-25)
|Place of birth
||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Los Angeles Aztecs
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
- 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
- Eredivisie: 1984
- KNVB Cup: 1984
- 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
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
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).
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