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14 quotes capturing the essence of Johan Cruyff

Quotes capturing the essence of Johann Cruyff and what his brilliance meant to the world of football as a player, coach, and philosopher

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Top 5 / Top 10 23 Mar 2018, 10:50 IST
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The heart of Total Football - Johan Cruyff

There is an element of mysticism about Johan Cruyff that now is folklore. He lit up a World Cup final, won 3 Ballon d’Ors (1971,1973,1974) in a career that saw him play over 500 league games for six clubs (Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante, Feyenoord). He won just about every accolade as a player.

10 league titles as a player, 4 as manager, 4 European Cups. It is not for nothing, that he was adjudged the best European player of the 20th century in 1999. These trophies and honours that pepper his career actually don't fully justify his legacy.

For Ajax and Barcelona, especially, their style of football based on possession, positional flexibility, and free-flowing attacking football is down to one man - Johan Cruyff. To him, nothing was more sacred than the pursuit of this philosophy.

EIn terms of having an impact on a game of football, his influence is uncontested, unrivalled, nonpareil. This is true for 90 minutes in play and the sport in general. While he was playing, he was simultaneously conducting the whole team, and while managing, orchestrating from the sidelines; and each time he made the game beautiful. When he spoke, people listened; and it helped that every quip was a gem.<p>
Cruyff essentially was an on-field manager

In terms of having an impact on a game of football, his influence is uncontested, unrivalled, nonpareil. While he was playing, he was simultaneously conducting the whole team, and while managing, orchestrating from the sidelines; and each time he made the game beautiful. When he spoke, people listened; and it helped that his every quip was a gem.

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

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

"Players today can only shoot with their laces. I could shoot with the inside, laces, and outside of both feet. In other words, I was six times better than today’s players."

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

The Dutch genius was always positive in approach and insightful in observation. Here are 14 quotes on Johan Cruyff that try and capture his otherworldly legacy.


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Cryuff captained FC Barcelona during his spell at the club from 1973-78

Johan Cruyff painted the chapel, and Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it – Pep Guardiola on Cruyff’s coaching work at the Nou Camp.

A supremely gifted athlete, as also creatively ingenious. 
A supremely gifted athlete, he was also creatively ingenious. 

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.

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