Hendrik Johannes Cruyff, commonly known as Johan Cruyff, was born on the 25th of April in 1947. Cruyff, born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is better known for attacking intelligence and imaginative playmaking. This contributed to his success and the legendary story behind him. Today, you can find the likes of Mbappe and Rooney on NetBet with high odds against them scoring.
Johan Cruyff began his football career in AFC Ajax, where he played at the development stage in the youth squad. Ajax noticed his abilities, and he was moved to the first team in 1964, where he immediately became a regular in the starting eleven. It was also at this time that the famous Rinus Michels also joined the Ajax team.
The arrival of Rinus Michels at Ajax introduced total football, a revolutionary playing strategy at the time. The principles of Michels on Total football meant that players could be flexible and rotate positions throughout the game allowing the team to make fluid and decisive passes. At the time, nobody embodied this playing style better than Johan Cruyff. Naturally a center forward, Cruyff would constantly change positions throughout the game jumping from role to role whenever needed. This style of players completely outplayed teams, and hence Total football was a groundbreaking success.
In his nine seasons at Ajax, Cruyff won six Eredivisie titles, four KNVB Cups, and three European Cups, scoring 190 goals in his 240 games and winning the Ballon D’or twice in 1971 and 1973. New opportunities came calling at the start of the 1973/74 season, and Cruyff joined Barcelona at a record-breaking transfer price of $2 million (£1,454,000) and was reunited with Rinus Michels once again. It did not take long for the price tag to be justified as just in his first season at Barcelona, the club won its first LaLiga title since 1960, and in the process shocking their fierce rivals Real Madrid with an emphatic 5-0 victory. Cruyff was again nominated and won the Ballon D’or for the third time in his career. The union between Rinus and Cruyff was seen as heaven-made.
In 1974 West Germany held the world cup competition, which went down as Cruyff last and the most decisive. Most teams at the time used traditional playing styles of fixed, immobile player position and with Rinus Michels total football playing style and his main talents Cruyff, Neeskens, and Krol, Netherlands cruised past all the teams that came up against them to the final where they faced the hosts West Germany earning the team the nickname “Clockwork Orange.” The nickname was inspired by their orange jerseys and a novel of the same name. As expected, the Netherlands took an early lead in the match. However, instead of concentrating on scoring goals and putting the game out of reach, the Netherlands embarked on a show-off, a game that made the hosts pull out a stunning comeback and won the match 2-1. Johan Cruyff still won the golden ball, also a Most valuable player, for his exceptional performance in the competition.
From 1978 after leaving Barcelona, Cruyff decided to head to America, where he played for the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats in his two seasons in the United States. Cruyff also had an unsuccessful spell at Levante, where he only played ten games due to injuries. This made his return back home. Ajax in 1981, and once again helped them clinch two Eredivisie titles in 1982 and 1983 consecutively. However, Cruyff decided to leave Ajax after the club failed to give him a new contract and joined Ajax’s rivals, Feyenoord. Undoubtedly Cruyff was also successful at Feyenoord, helping them win their first Eredivisie title in ten years. Cruyff decided to end his career at Feyenoord.
Apart from being a legend on the pitch, Cruyff also proved to be a proficient manager, and both clubs where he made his name, Barcelona and Ajax, still employ his philosophies, tactics, and principles. The number of players directly or indirectly influenced by Cruyff’s style of play is infinite, and many would coincide that he was a legend both off and on the pitch. It is also to note that Cruyff’s intelligence was not only limited to the pitch only. He was also a great philosopher and is remembered for his famous quote, “if you play possession, you do not have to defend as there is only one ball.”
Sadly, on the 24th of March 2016, Cruyff passed away at 68 years old after being diagnosed with lung cancer, and the world mourned the man who changed the game for what it is today.