Johan Cruyff Football Career: Johan Cruyff is the pride of Holland and the personification of total football, a man who has become a legend both on the field and in his coaching career.
Johan Cruyff Football Career
04/25/1947 – 03/24/2016
- Ajax (1964-1973, 1981-1983; 369 matches, 271 goals).
- Barcelona Spain (1973-1978; 180 matches, 60 goals).
- Los Angeles Aztecs USA (1979; 27 matches, 14 goals).
- Washington Diplomats USA (1980-1981; 32 matches, 12 goals).
- Levante Spain (1981; 12 matches, 2 goals).
- Feyenoord (1983-1984; 44 matches, 13 goals).
- Silver medalist at the 1974 World Championship.
- Bronze medalist of the 1976 European Championship.
- Winner of the European Champions Cup 1971-1973.
- Finalist of the 1969 European Cup.
- 1972 UEFA Super Cup winner.
- Winner of the 1972 Intercontinental Cup.
- Holland Champion 1966-1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1982-1984.
- Silver medalist of the Dutch championships 1969, 1971.
- Holland Cup Winner 1967, 1970-1972, 1983, 1984.
- 1974 Spanish Champion.
- Silver medalist of the 1976-1978 Spanish championships.
- Bronze medalist of the 1975 Spanish Championship.
- Winner of the 1978 Spanish Cup.
- Winner of the Golden Ball for the best football player in Europe 1971, 1973, 1974.
- The best football player of the 1974 World Cup.
- The best foreign football player in the championships of Spain 1977, 1978.
- Top scorer of the 1972 European Cup.
- The best scorer of the Holland championships in 1967, 1972.
- The top scorer of the 1966 Dutch Cup.
- Holland Sportsman of the Year (1973, 1974).
- Ajax (1986-1988).
- Barcelona Spain (1988-1996).
- Winner of the 1992 European Champions Cup.
- 1994 UEFA Champions League finalist.
- Winner of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1987, 1989.
- Finalist of the 1991 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
- 1992 UEFA Super Cup winner.
- Silver medalist of the Dutch championships 1986, 1987.
- Holland Cup Winner 1986, 1987.
- Champion of Spain 1991-1994.
- Silver medalist of the 1989 Spanish Championship.
- Bronze medalist of the Spanish championships in 1990, 1996.
- Winner of the Spanish Cup in 1990.
- Spanish Super Cup winner 1991, 1992, 1994.
- 1987 World Soccer Coach.
- Trainer 1992, 1994 in Europe according to Onze Mondial.
The Beginning of A Long Journey
When your family is wealthy, you can safely do what you love. In this regard, little Johan was lucky – his parents were the owners of a grocery store, so the boy could play football all day and not think about anything. And Cruyff played everywhere, literally sleeping and seeing himself as a football player.
From an early age, the young man did not differ in academic success, but in terms of ball-handling skills, he gave a head start to the older guys. Dreaming of playing for the local “Ajax”, the boy tirelessly honed his skills and, plucking up courage, came to the club to watch.
Despite his frankly slender physique, the newcomer aroused the interest of the coaches and got into the youth team of the Amsterdam club. In a few matches, Cruyff gains prestige among senior partners and becomes, in fact, the leader of the team.
Johan signs his first professional contract a couple of days before his majority and independently knocks out the necessary financial conditions for himself. Left without a father early, the young man quickly learned to defend his interests.
The fact that the money was not wasted, Cruyff convinces the management, barely leaving the lawn. The very next year, he made his debut in the main team, which was then going through a serious crisis. But Cruyff leads the team by personal example, scoring 4 goals in 10 games.
At the age of 18, Johan wins a place in the main team of Ajax and becomes its undisputed leader. The light, airy running style of a young striker, elusive dribbling is combined with an exceptional vision of the field and the ability to be anywhere exactly when you need it.
First of all, thanks to its newly minted leader, Ajax is flourishing right before our eyes and becoming the hegemon in the Dutch championship, having won the gold of the national championship six times in eight years.
Success comes to the Amsterdamites on the European arena as well: for three years in a row (1971-1973) Ajax became the triumph of the European Champions Cup.
Cruyff’s contribution is expressed not only in goals (his average performance is near the goal per game mark) but also in the fact that he gives his partners confidence by being around them.
Well, when the ball hits Johan’s feet, the opponents simply don’t know what to expect. The beginning of the 70s is the era of the Dutchman, who won the Ballon d’Or three times (1971, 1973, 1974).
While the first two Ballon d’Or was timed to coincide with the triumphs of Ajax, Cruyff won the third-best footballer in Europe for the 1974 World Cup. What the Dutch showed at that World Cup was nothing more than a revolution in world football.
The country, which until now was on the outskirts of international battles, surprised the whole world overnight. The total football of Rinus Michels was ideal for the talented generation of Dutch masters, the main of which was, of course, Cruyff.
Exceptional interchangeability turned the heads of all rivals in the group stages, and only the mighty German national team was able to turn the tide of the unsuccessful final match for it and became the world champion.
However, this does not negate the fact that the main team of the tournament was Holland, and the best football player was Johan Cruyff.
It was Cruyff’s peak, which by that time was an idol not only in Holland. Shortly before the World Cup, he became the champion of Spain with Barcelona, which he moved to a year earlier.
In the capital of Catalonia, they were ready to carry the Dutchman in their arms, because Barca could not win the example for fourteen years.
At Barcelona, Johan continued to dominate from striker to playmaker. Clever and unexpected play in conjunction with a long-term partner in the national team and Ajax namesake Neskens became the hallmark of the blue garnet, which were recognized by experts as the most sophisticated team in the whole technical Spanish championship.
Triumphant Return Home
Only age prevented Cruyff from spending more than five seasons at Barcelona. At the end of the 1977/1978 championship, he moved overseas. After spending three years in the United States popularizing local football like Pele and Beckenbauer, Johan returns home at the age of 34.
The farewell tour lasted three seasons – two at Ajax and one at Rotterdam’s Feyenoord. I must say that Cruyff performed his swan song as an encore, becoming the champion of Holland every year. A brilliant end to your career!
Two years after the end of his playing career, Johan took over as head coach of Ajax and led the Amsterdam players to the silver medals of the national championship for two seasons in a row. But Cruyff’s biggest success with his hometown team was in the 1987 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Two years later, the young coach repeats his success in the European arena, albeit with Barcelona, the work with which elevated Cruyff to the rank of great coaches.
By accepting the Catalans ahead of the 1988/1989 season, he broke Real’s five-year hegemony two years later. But how broke it – “Barca” became the champion of Spain for four years in a row! So far, this series is the best in the history of the legendary team. The Dutchman led Barcelona to triumph in the 1992 European Champions Cup.
Another thing is also important – it was Cruyff who became the founder of Barcelona’s unique combinational gaming philosophy, which is relevant to this day.
The principles of technical play, based on the transfer to the nearest player and total control of the ball, were laid in Catalonia by Cruyff, who understands football in a special way.
Moreover, he continued to fulfill his mission even after the end of his coaching career. Having voluntarily resigned as coaching due to his health condition, Johan focused on his work at the club academy, building a vertical from the youth teams to the main team of Barça.
When they say that a strong footballer is unlikely to become the same coach, the name of Johan Cruyff is immediately taken out of the brackets. His coaching biography, if inferior to playing, is only in the number of titles, which should have been much more, Cruyff did not leave the coaching bench at 49 years old.
Being overly impulsive, Cruyff took each defeat to heart. That is only a deafening failure in the final of the Champions League in 1994, when his Barça, showing sparkling football, was destroyed by the pragmatic Milan.
Despite the fact that lung cancer beat Johan in a protracted final in the struggle for life, Cruyff’s legacy is immortal.
He is recognized as the best footballer in Holland, which became a leading football power in the 70s and was able to maintain this status decades later, and is among the ten best footballers in human history in all significant ratings, usually following Pele and Maradona.
And, of course, it is Cruyff who should be said “thank you” to football connoisseurs for Guardiola, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi.
Until the end of his days, the Dutch maestro was devoted to Barcelona, working every day to ensure that the Barcelona gene, which he personally planted, would sit as tightly inside the players in blue garnet shirts as possible.