Johan Cruyff

Dutch footballer and manager (1947–2016)

Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON (25 April 1947 - 24 March 2016), internationally known as Johan Cruyff, was a former Dutch footballer and the manager of the Catalan national team as well as a member of the AFC Ajax board of directors. He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974, which is a record jointly held with Michel Platini, Marco van Basten, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Cruyff was one of the most famous exponents of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

Every trainer talks about movement, about running a lot. I say don't run so much. Football is a game you play with your brain. You have to be in the right place at the right moment, not too early, not too late.
Three of the most notable figures of the Totaalvoetbal school: Johan Neeskens, Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff.

Quotes of Cruyff edit

We showed the world you could enjoy being a footballer; you could laugh and have a fantastic time. I represent the era which proved that attractive football was enjoyable and successful, and good fun to play too.
Winning is an important thing, but to have your own style, to have people copy you, to admire you, that is the greatest gift.
Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.
In my teams, the goalie is the first attacker, and the striker the first defender.
Every disadvantage has its advantage.
I haven't always been understood. As a footballer, as coach and also for what I did after all that. But OK, Rembrandt and Van Gogh weren't understood either. That's what you learn: people go on bothering you until you're a genius.
  • The main problem in Britain is that there are too many competitions and too many games. There is no time to prepare properly for Europe or to introduce new ideas because there is far too much emphasis on domestic football.
  • 4-5-1? Never. It was always 4-3-3 for me as a player and as manager, just like [Frank] Rijkaard at Barcelona. With 4-3-3, it's much easier to make combinations going forward. With only one forward, who is he going to pass to? Who is he going to make combinations with? Football is about having the best offensive play possible. I always like to play offensive football and nobody will convince me otherwise.
  • Every trainer talks about movement, about running a lot. I say don't run so much. Football is a game you play with your brain. You have to be in the right place at the right moment, not too early, not too late.
    • reported in David Winner (2012). Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football.
  • There is no medal better than being acclaimed for your style. As a coach, my teams might have won more games if we’d played in a less adventurous way. Maybe I’d have earned a little more and the bonuses would have been bigger, but if people say that Barcelona were playing the nicest football in the world with me as coach, what more can I ask for? If you’re appearing in the World Cup final it may be the biggest occasion of your life, so why be sad and fearful? Be happy, express yourself and play. Make it special for you and for everyone watching. For the good of football, we need a team of invention, attacking ideas and style to emerge. Even if it doesn't win, it will inspire footballers of all ages everywhere. That is the greatest reward.
    • reported in David Winner (2012). Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football.
  • You should know that I had problems at the end of my career as a player here and I don't know if you know that someone [put] a rifle at my head and tied me up and tied up my wife in front of the children at our flat in Barcelona. The children were going to school accompanied by the police. The police slept in our house for three or four months. I was going to matches with a bodyguard. All these things change your point of view towards many things. There are moments in life in which there are other values. We wanted to stop this and be a little more sensible. It was the moment to leave football and I couldn't play in the World Cup after this.
  • Sadly, they played very dirty. This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style... If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they lost.
  • It hurts me that Holland chose an ugly path to aim for the title.
    • BBC Sport (12 July 2010).
  • Who am I supporting? I am Dutch but I support the football that Spain is playing. Spain's style is the style of Barcelona. Spain, a replica of Barça, is the best publicity for football.
    • Cruyff wrote in his weekly column for the Barcelona-based newspaper El Periodico, prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup final match (, 11 July 2010).
  • We [Barça] are a unique club in the world, no one has kept their jersey intact throughout their history, yet have remained as competitive as they come. (...) We have sold this uniqueness for about six percent of our budget. I understand that we are currently losing more than we are earning. However, by selling the shirt it shows me that we are not being creative, and that we have become vulgar.
  • Because you play football with your head, and your legs are there to help you. If you don't use your head, using your feet won't be sufficient. Why does a player have to chase the ball? Because he started running too late. You have to pay attention, use your brain and find the right position. If you get to the ball late, it means you chose the wrong position. Bergkamp was never late.
    • reported in Dennis Bergkamp (2013). Stillness and Speed: My Story.
  • Van Gaal has a good vision on football. But it's not mine. He wants to gel winning teams and has a militaristic way of working with his tactics. I don't. I want individuals to think for themselves and take the decision on the pitch that is best for the situation... I don't have anything against computers, but you judge football players intuitively and with your heart.
    • reported in Maarten Meijer (2014). Louis van Gaal: The Biography.
  • We showed the world you could enjoy being a footballer; you could laugh and have a fantastic time. I represent the era which proved that attractive football was enjoyable and successful, and good fun to play too.
  • Football is now all about money. There are problems with the values within the game. And this is sad because football is the most beautiful game. We can play it in the street. We can play it everywhere. Everyone can play it but those values are being lost. We have to bring them back.
  • Right now, I have the feeling that I am 2-0 up in the first half of a match that has not finished yet. But I am sure that I will end up winning.
  • Players today can only shoot with their laces. I could shoot with the inside, laces, and outside of both feet. In other words, I was six times better than today’s players.
  • Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.
  • Barça wanted to get rid of him [Guardiola]. They considered him scrawny, bad defensively and ineffective in the air. What nobody saw was that he had the basic qualities to go far: he had game intelligence, speed in his execution, technique. If I hadn't been at Barcelona, for sure he would have been sold to a Segunda Division club.
  • I haven't always been understood. As a footballer, as coach and also for what I did after all that. But OK, Rembrandt and Van Gogh weren't understood either. That's what you learn: people go on bothering you until you're a genius.
    • reported in Johan Cruyff (2016). My Turn: The Autobiography.
  • That December [1992], we [Barça] lost the Intercontinental Cup match against São Paulo 2–1. It was one of the few times that I had no problems with a defeat. I've always admired the Brazilian coach Telê Santana for his vision, because it always displayed a genuine love of football.
    • reported in Johan Cruyff (2016). My Turn: The Autobiography.
  • When it was clear that I was leaving Ajax [in 1973], I was sent all kinds of poisonous messages and lots more of that kind of nonsense. But the worst thing for me was that Ajax gave my mother, who had always done her best for the club, an inferior seat in the stadium. Behind a pole. That absolutely crushed me.
    • reported in Johan Cruyff (2016). My Turn: The Autobiography.
  • I like technical players who can also think in terms of the team's interests. I've already mentioned Iniesta and Xavi, who disprove entirely the theory that only physically strong footballers with a lot of running ability can play in their positions.
    • reported in Johan Cruyff (2016). My Turn: The Autobiography.

Quotes about Cruyff edit

Inside of football edit

  • I loved the Dutch in the '70s, they excited me and Cruyff was the best. He was my childhood hero; I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall. He was a creator. He was at the heart of a revolution with his football. Ajax changed football and he was the leader of it all. If he wanted he could be the best player in any position on the pitch. (...) I was going to choose Cruyff as a player-manager because I loved his tactical brain. He was always thinking, he always wanted to improve his players. I know what his teams can do as I watched from the stands as his Barcelona side beat United 4-0 in 1994.
  • I sometimes wonder if Argentina would have won the World Cup in 1978 if Cruyff had been playing but he chose not to be there. In 1974, he scored two goals against Argentina in the quarter-final but without him in 1978 we just had the edge. He was a great player at a time when Dutch football was going through a great period and deserves to be considered as one of the all-time greats.
  • He [Cruyff] was pretty intelligent, too! A real football brain. He had superb control, he was inventive and he could perform magic with a ball to get himself out of trouble instinctively. He got a lot of goals, and although he was so skilful, he didn’t show off – he played to the strengths of the players around him. This side would really keep hold of the ball.
  • He [Cruyff] changed the idiosyncrasy of the club (Barça). He introduced the philosophy to keep the ball, to play in triangles, to attack. That philosophy remains true to this day. We're all students of Cruyff and his school of thought.
  • We discussed space the whole time. Cruyff always talked about where people should run, where they should stand, where they should not be moving. It was all about making space and coming into space.
    • Barry Hulshoff, the 1970s Ajax defender who played with Cruyff, reported in David Winner (2012). Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football.
  • Cruyff was the first player who understood that he was an artist, and the first who was able and willing to collectivise the art of sports.
    • reported in Jonathan Wilson (2013). Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics.
  • Cruyff introduced some passing drills into Barça's ‘arterial’ system. And since then, the rondos have been not just a method but a symbol of the club's playing style: of dominating and never losing the ball. Cruyff blended several ideas and concepts and converted them into a philosophy – the seeds of which were planted throughout a club in urgent need of a footballing identity. Until then, the first team of Barcelona had been comfortably living in a world of excuses and enemies, content with their role as victims when faced with Real Madrid, an institution seen from Catalonia as the club of the Establishment.
    • reported in Guillem Balagué (2013). Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning. The Biography.
  • It is about creating one philosophy, one mentality, from the bottom of the club to the top. Cruyff is the one who started it all. He has been the club's most influential figure. We all have the ability to do certain things, but I would not have been able to build something from scratch like Cruyff did. I learned a lot of things from him. I cannot imagine the current Barcelona without Cruyff's work.
    • Pep Segura, the former La Masia technical director, said of Cruyff's influence on Barcelona's youth system (September 2013).
  • You really have to put things in their context and their historic moment. For me, my idol was always Johan Cruyff. For me he has always been the greatest, not just as a player but also as a person. (...) He has been a point of reference for me. It was his era, his moment - and he was the best in the world. For me, the best in history.
  • The Netherlands [until the early 1960s] was a third-rate footballing nation, its tactics and facilities stuck in the 1930s. Yet within a decade, the club and country had become the most important and admired in the world. Cruyff was the man who made it happen.
  • Cruyff has had many enemies and critics over the years. He has been accused of being too idealistic, too stubborn, insufficiently interested in defending and simply too difficult a personality. He loves an argument, and his conflict-model method of working can be bruising.
  • I consider him [Cruyff] the ideological father of the football; the one I try to play like and the one I look to learn from as a spectator whenever I watch a game. The intelligent use of the ball and the spaces, the importance of talent over the physical condition and the understanding of football as a team sport are concepts that I definitely endorse.
  • With Cruyff we [Barça] began to play differently, breaking new ground and innovating. With him, both as a player and coach, we established our own style on the field, what is traditionally known as 'total football,' the Barça style everyone admires. The arrival of Cruyff altered the history of Barça. He contributed decisively to a change of mentality. He got us to keep our heads up and to see that no opponent was invincible, that we could attain what we were aiming for. Cruyff was an icon who explained, better than anyone, that Barça is more than a club. He did it simply and based in reality, and always moving forward. Without Cruyff's unabashed and non-conformist spirit, we quite possibly wouldn't have become the greatest club in the world. So, again, thank you, Johan. Thanks to the man who was admired, thanks to the social icon, thanks to the football superstar.
  • If you look at the greatest players in history, most of them couldn’t coach. If you look at the greatest coaches in history, most of them were not great players. Johan Cruyff did both – and in such an exhilarating style.
  • As a player and as a manager he [Cruyff] won a lot of titles, but that's not his legacy. The titles only help. Johan has changed two clubs. Not only did he change Ajax, but also Barcelona – and then the Dutch and Spanish national teams, too. Forget the titles. I've won more titles than him. Messi, for example, is someone runs less and in that he's the best of Cruyff's alumni. (...) I would not have been capable of doing what he did at Barcelona. He changed everything. He did it all. What Cruyff's done for football cannot be compared. The statue thing is superficial. He has made us love this sport so openly that there's no way we can forget him.
  • More than an athlete, Cruyff was also a great thinker, someone who reinvented the sport (...) Cruyff has left us now, but his vision and philosophy will hopefully live forever. You can see it in the way Barcelona—one of two clubs Cruyff revolutionized, along with Ajax—still plays every week. It's a style that has admirers around the world. I think a lot of people share that [philosophy] with him. You want to see this type of game, where you set the tone, you control the game, you make it fast, you make it attractive and attacking. He's always been famous for his version of the 4–3–3 with the wide wingers, all technically highly gifted and fast. This is his mark."
  • He [Cruyff] has been inspirational to me along my career. When I was giving my first steps as a footballer he was a myth, an icon to follow. Afterwards, when I became a football manager, Cruyff was one of my references.
  • He [Cruyff] can be seen as a revolutionary, a dreamer, a visionary, and an innovator who changed the idea of a game in which strength was the primary consideration to another one based, and focused, on ability and technique, giving birth to what has been called “tiki-taka.” He used to say that football should be played with the brain. (...) He would always talk about football in the same way he did when he was playing and coaching—with plenty of passion and excitement. A legend has gone but he has left an important legacy.
  • Cruyff the player was gloriously impudent, a slight and graceful genius who proved that brain could outmanoeuvre brawn. Watching his Netherlands dart and thrust their way around Uruguay or Argentina in 1974, or seeing his Ajax outwit Juventus in the European Cup final in 1973, was to see a devastating puppet-master toying with lumbering opponents. Cruyff the coach, Cruyff the manager, was able to retain that sense of the joy of the game, the importance of beauty and, what’s harder, to convey that sense to his players. There has never been such a great player who was also such a great manager. In that he stands utterly unique.
  • There was also no rational reason why Dutch football should produce someone like Cruyff at the time that he began kicking around a ball in the East Amsterdam planned neighbourhood of Betondorp. (…) Until he pulled on the Oranje jersey, the Dutch national team had failed to qualify for a major tournament since before World War II. No Dutch side had won European silverware. It was very much a footballing backwater, as likely to spawn a guy who would change the sport forever as Jamaica is to produce the world's greatest downhill skier.
  • There may have been better players in the history of the game, though I doubt you can count them on more than one hand. And there may have been better managers, too, if only because his coaching career only lasted 10 and a half years (during which he won 14 trophies, not a bad return). But it's tough to argue that any man has exerted a greater influence -- on the pitch and on the bench -- on the game as we know it today.
  • You can separate Barça's history into BCE (Before Cruyff Era) and CE (Cruyff Era). And, yes, Barça are still, nearly 20 years after he coached his final game for the club, still very much in the Cruyff Era.
  • Today football has lost one of its best ever players and ambassadors. I am very sad because Johan was my childhood hero, my idol and my friend.
  • Sad to hear that Johan Cruyff has died. Football has lost a man who did more to make the beautiful game beautiful than anyone in history.
  • Johan Cruyff, true football royalty. I don't think anyone has ever influenced the game as much as he has done.
  • I always told everyone that Cruyff was my idol. I'm not being disloyal to [Real] Madrid by saying that. I believe in honesty and when you look at what Johan's like, who he is and how he played, then if you can't say he's your idol, you are not a person worthy of being a Real Madrid supporter.

Outside of football edit

  • When I was a teenager my idol was the Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff. He's the only person I've ever asked for an autograph.
  • People remember very well that not only were you [Cruyff] an outstanding football player but that you gave football a social content, you made it an educational process. You are a role model. Football is one of the great ways to make peace among people. When a player like you arrives in our country the eyes of the children light up—Jewish, Arab or Muslim.
  • The whole world knew Johan Cruijff. And through him, the whole world came to know the Netherlands and Dutch football. (...) A lot of people come to my offices but never before has everyone wanted to be photographed with a visitor as they did with him.
  • Johan [Cruyff] was more than just a great soccer player. He was a role model who promoted world peace. He brought the values of education into the game of football and proved that on the field, everyone is equal- Jews, Muslims and Christians- that running fast and playing well will lead to victory in spite of discrimination and racism.
  • First, may I put on the record the sad death today of Johan Cruyff, one of the most brilliant footballers I have had the pleasure of watching and one who will be ever remembered for the Cruyff turn?
  • Very sad to hear of the passing of Johan Cruyff, who I was lucky enough to meet. A very important person for our sport.

External links edit

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