Remembering Johan Cruyff, One Year On

Managing Barcelona in 1990. | © Hollandse Hoogte/REX/Shutterstock (5618862a)
Managing Barcelona in 1990. | © Hollandse Hoogte/REX/Shutterstock (5618862a)
Photo of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor24 March 2017

Dutch icon Johan Cruyff died on March 24 , 2016. One year on from his death, it seems fitting to celebrate all that he brought to soccer.

Across an astonishing career that includes Ajax, Feyenoord and Barcelona, playing and managing, Johan Cruyff was one of the most important figures in how the game was played, developed and even watched. The Total Football that the Dutch side he captained played during the 1970s introduced an adaptability, and use of space and movement, unlike anything seen before. He was an orchestrator, innovator, sometimes dictator and global superstar.

Cruyff in quotes:

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

“Choose the best player for every position, and you’ll end up not with a strong XI, but with 11 strong 1s.”

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

“Before I make a mistake, I don’t make that mistake.”

“Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.”

“What is speed? The sports press often confuses speed with insight. See, if I start running slightly earlier than someone else, I seem faster.”

“We must make sure their worst players get the ball the most. You’ll get it back in no time.”

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

“If I wanted you to understand it, I would have explained it better.”

“When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average … So, the most important thing is: what do you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.”

Cruyff in pictures:

Off the pitch, but still in the iconic Dutch shirt | © Wikimedia Commons
“On Your Own You’ll Achieve Nothing You’ll Have To Do It Together” | © FaceMePLS/
Playing for the Netherlands against Uruguay. | © NazionaleCalcio/
Mural in London, UK | © MattBrown/
Just about to win a penalty in the first minute of the 1974 World Cup final |
In action for Barcelona. | © Giuliano Bevilacqua/REX/Shutterstock (1038619c)
Prematch for the Netherlands. | ©

Cruyff in numbers:

22 — Honours as a player

14 — Honours as a manager

3 — Consecutive European Cup titles with Ajax

204 — Eredivisie goals

3 — Ballon d’Or titles

1973 — The year he became the world’s most expensive player, signed by Barcelona for £922,000

2 — The number of adidas stripes on his Netherlands shirt. He refused to wear the trademark three due to his Puma sponsorship.

1 — Turn named after him.

Cruyff in action:

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