Born within a stone’s throw of the Ajax stadium in the east of Amsterdam, John Cruyff’s mother was a custodian for the club. Cruyff joined Amsterdam’s Ajax when he was just 10 years old, and by 17, made his debut with the senior team. It seems he was destined for the sport.
Terms often used to describe Cruyff include professor, legend, icon, pioneer and master. His vision and implementation of game-changing strategies illustrates the career of one of the greatest minds ever to grace the sport of football. Although not specifically a number 10, his philosophy, passion, vision about the game thoroughly represents how we see the game. Cruyff was a self-aware and intelligent man. He was also arrogant, ideological, and brutally honest.
During his time with Ajax, Cruyff and the team took home 13 major trophies, including three consecutive European Cups. He was a proponent of the football philosophy known as “Total Football,” invented by Rinus Michels. Cruyff is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and one of the greatest managers. Individually, he collected three Ballon d’Or awards. The last was given in 1974 as he starred for the Netherlands in that summer’s World Cup when the “Total Football” was executed with perfection on the pitch and went global.
Cruyff was always much more than a player, and his impact on the game is felt today in every major club in Europe. He is also one of football’s greatest myths, its greatest romance. His absolute and radical idea that the sport should be beautiful, that just as quality without results was pointless, results without quality was boring, he became the soul of the game.
In 2004, the Netherlands conducted a public poll to determine the greatest Dutchman in history. They named Johan Cruyff as number six of all time, finishing just below humanist philosopher Desiderius Erasmus and above Anne Frank, Rembrandt, and Vincent Van Gogh!
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