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African News Agency
24 Mar 2016 16:56
Former Barcelona coach and player Johan Cruyff speaks on his appointment as Barcelona's Honorary President at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona April 8, 2010. (Reuters/Albert Gea)
Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff, who helped
revolutionize the sport with the concept of Total Football, died on
Thursday at age 68 in Barcelona, his foundation said. He had been
suffering from lung cancer.
“On March 24, 2016 Johan Cruyff died peacefully in Barcelona,
surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer,” a
“It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s
privacy during their time of grief.”
The former Ajax, Barcelona and Netherlands star Cruyff was diagnosed
with lung cancer in late October.
Last month he had made an upbeat statement, saying “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.”
Cruyff, a former smoker who had heart surgery in 1991, is rated among
the all-time greats in football and won the European Footballer of
the Year award three times.
Silverware as a player included three European Cups 1971-1973 and
eight Dutch league titles with Ajax, a league title in his final
season 1983-84 with Feyenoord, plus a Spanish title in 1974 with
He later also coached Barca to the 1992 Champions League trophy and
four straight Spanish league titles 1991-1994 during a vastly
successful term between 1988 and 1996.
The 48-times capped playmaker led the Dutch team to the runners-up
spot in the 1974 World Cup – the first for the Dutch since 1938 – and
to third place at Euro 1976.
That success, coupled with the remarkable run of Ajax Amsterdam,
brought Dutch football onto the world stage, with the free-flowing
attacking game of Total Football he helped create together with
Rinus Michels who was his coach at Ajax, Barca and the 1974 national
“We have lost our best ever footballer, our number 14 and a great
friend of football.
Former England striker Gary Lineker, who played under Cruyff at Barca
for one season, tweeted: “Football has lost a man who did more to
make the beautiful game beautiful than anyone in history.”
Gianni Infantino, president of the ruling body FIFA, named Cruyff
“one of the greatest players the world has ever known. A symbol of
elegant play. An inspiration. A source of admiration for fans. He has
marked football history for ever.”
Cruyff was loved and feared for his outspoken views on the state of
the game and worked as an adviser for Ajax and Barca, and was also
coach of a Catalan national team.
He was devoted to the region, lived in Barcelona for most of the time
since 1973, and even named his son Jordi after Catalonia’s patron
saint, a provocative gesture at the time because the then still
ruling General Franco had outlawed all Catalan symbols.
“We’ll always love you, Johan. Rest in peace,” Barca tweeted, and
playmaker Andres Iniesta spoke of “a very sad day for Barcelona and
football in general.”
Barca said a minute’s silence will be observed ahead of Spain’s
friendly against Italy later Thursday, and that a tribute is also
planned ahead of the April 2 clasico at home against arch-rivals Real
Madrid. Barca famously beat Real 5-0 away at the Bernabeu in the
first season after Cruyff’s arrival as a player 43 years ago.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also took to Twitter, saying:
“My deepest condolences to the family, team-mates and friends of
Johan Cruyff, a mythical player and a tireless fighter. Rest in
Ajax, where his career took off five decades ago, meanwhile said:
“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and loved ones.”
Cruyff was denied the World Cup title by the West Germany of Franz
Beckenbauer, the other major European star of the 1970s and 2-1
winner with his team in the deciding match in Munich.
“I am shocked. Johan Cruyff is dead. He was not only a very good
friend but also a brother to me,” Beckenbauer tweeted. - By John Bagratuni, DPA/ANA
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