Johan Cruyff

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Johan Cruyff (1947-2016) was one of the most creative and intelligent footballers of all time

Johan Cruyff (1947-2016)
Johan Cruyff was one of the most creative and intelligent footballers of all time.

His performances for the Dutch national team, Ajax (Amsterdam), Barcelona and Feyenoord (Rotterdam) throughout the 70s and 80s revolutionised football.

He was arguably the greatest thinker ever on the game – redefining football as an expression of creativity during his time as both player and manager.

The way Barcelona play today is perhaps the best symbol of his legacy.

A collection of quotes, sourced from The Guardian, illustrate his unique views and the respect in which the footballing community held him.

Cruyff on Football
“Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”

“In my teams, striker is first defender and goalie is the first attacker.”

“Football is a game you play with your brain.”

“Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your team-mate.”

“I find it terrible when talents are rejected based on computer stats. Based on the criteria at Ajax now I would have been rejected. When I was 15, I couldn’t kick a ball 15 meters with my left and maybe 20 with my right. My qualities technique and vision, are not detectable by a computer.”

“What is speed? Speed is often confused with insight. When I start running earlier than the others, I appear faster.”

“Players that aren’t true leaders bash other players after a mistake. True leaders on the pitch already assume others will make mistakes.”

“Why couldn’t you beat a richer club? I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.”

“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.”

“You play football with your head, and your legs are there to help you.”

Football on Cruyff

“Johan Cruyff painted the chapel, and Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it”

– Pep Guardiola on Cruyff’s work at the Nou Camp.

“He is like the Godfather of Dutch football”

– Frank Rijkaard.

“Pythagoras in boots. Few have been able to exert, both physically and mentally, such mesmeric control on a match from one penalty area to another”

– David Winner, author of Brilliant Orange.

“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.”

– Eric Cantona.

“The proudest moment of my career. I thought I’d win the ball for sure, but he tricked me. I was not humiliated. I had no chance. Cruyff was a genius”

– Jan Olsson, the Sweden defender who was tricked by the Cruyff Turn at the 1974 World Cup.

“As a player he turned football into an art form. Johan came along and revolutionised everything. The modern-day Barca started with him, he is the expression of our identity, he brought us a style of football we love”

– the former Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

“He has had the biggest influence on football out of anyone in the world, first as a player and then as a coach”

– Pep Guardiola

To learn more on the brilliance of John Cruyff please visit

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