The Dutch attacking midfield maestro was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1947. He made his debut for his hometown club Ajax in 1964 and turned around their fortunes, becoming a dominant force domestically and on the continent with three consecutive European Cup titles between 1971-1973.
On a individual level Johan was awarded the Ballon D’or on three occasions 1971, 1973 and 1974.
After almost a decade at Ajax, the talented playmaker headed for pastures new and the Camp Nou would become his new mecca. A world record transfer fee would take him to Barcelona where he once again transformed the fortunes of his team and ending a 14 year wait for a La Liga title. During his five years in Catalonia, “Jopie” made 143 appearances and scored 48 goals. After his spell in Spain, Johan moved to North America to play in the NASL for Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats. He returned to La Liga for a brief spell at Lavante before he retuned home to Ajax and Feyenoord.
At international level, the famous No 14 made 48 appearances for Holland scoring 33 goals. He become a key figure in Rinus Michels ‘Total Football’ philosophy which helped the Dutch reach the World Cup final in 1974. Aged just 30, Cruyff retired from International football in 1977 after helping his country qualify for the World Cup in 1978. The early retirement was rumoured to be due to kidnap threats which had been made.
Success didn’t just come on the pitch for Cryuff as he made the seamless transition into management coaching Total Football at Ajax and Barcelona and winning 13 major honours.
“In my teams, the goalie is the first attacker, and the striker the first defender.”Johan Cruyff