Messi, Suarez and Neymar planned penalty as a tribute to Barcelona legend Cruyff
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar apparently planned their ‘two-man’ penalty in advance, as a tribute to Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff. As Messi stepped up to take the penalty against Celta Vigo and passed the ball for Luis Suarez to finish, the routine brought back memories of Dutchman Johan Cruyff, who performed a similar move for Ajax late into his career.
According to Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, he had witnessed the trio practice the routine in training, saying “I wasn’t surprised, I was aware what they [Messi, Suarez, Neymar] were up to. We already knew that all this would come [after]. I imagine it’s going to create a debate. But in any case, it’s a legal move. I think that it’s a famous penalty scored by [Johan] Cruyff in the past?”
Andres Iniesta told Barca TV “I had never seen them do it but I had heard them discuss it. Perhaps it was for Neymar but Luis was there so he converted it.” Similarly, Neymar claimed the pass was for him, saying “It was for me, we had practised it in training! Leo and myself had practiced but Luis was closer and he scored it.”
Cruyff battling cancer
Just a couple of days earlier, Johan Cruyff had issued a promising update in his ongoing battle with cancer, saying “The results have been very positive. Thanks to the excellent work of the doctors, the affection of the people and my positive mentality.”
“Right now, I have the feeling that I am 2-0 up in the first half of a match that has not finished yet. But I am sure I will end up winning.”
After the Dutch legend had been diagnosed with lung cancer in October, Barcelona offered a wonderful tribute to Cruyff, as they warmed up before their La Liga game sporting orange t-shirts with the message ‘Cheer up Johan’.
The legend was clearly moved by the gesture, as in his column for De Telegraaf he wrote “Often the media are an additional tax, but the last week that has been different. The way in which a reply is posted via a variety of media in my situation was emotional and heartwarming. I am extremely proud of the appreciation shown by all responses.”
With Barcelona’s front trio taking it upon themselves to deliver another fitting tribute via their penalty, there is little doubt that Cruyff will be touched by the gesture.