Top 5 greatest footballers of all time
#4 Johan Cruyff (The Netherlands)
Johan Cruyff, the Dutch Genius, was one of the most influential personalities in world football. He was the greatest European footballer of all time. His playing style was mellifluous, his touches resembling the strokes of an artist and his dribbling skills and vision were of the highest quality.
He was the focal point of the famous ‘total football’ system designed by Dutch coach Rinus Michels. Later on in his life, Cruyff implemented this football philosophy successfully in FC Barcelona and the club is still enjoying the fruits of it.
Cruyff started his career in Ajax Amsterdam in 1964 and played for them for till 1973 before making a move to Barcelona. He won 3 European Cups and 6 Eredivisies with Ajax and also collected 3 Ballon d’Or trophies in those amazing 9 years. Cruyff scored 190 goals in 240 matches for Ajax during that period.
Cruyff won the La Liga with Barcelona too and left his indelible mark as a player in the 5 years he spent there. He moved to the United States in 1978 and spent a couple of seasons there. Cruyff came back to Ajax in 1981 and won the Eredivisie again. In 1982, he fell out with the Ajax officials and made a move to FC Feyenoord, another Dutch club. As if to prove a point, Cruyff won the Dutch League with Feyenoord too!
Cruyff played only 48 matches for the Dutch National side and scored 33 goals. He led the brilliant Dutch side in the 1974 world cup and lost surprisingly to the hosts West Germany in the final. He was adjudged the best player of the tournament and won the prestigious Golden Ball.
Cruyff began his managerial career at Ajax and won the Eredivisie again. Then he went on to manage Barcelona and popularized the philosophy of passing football there. He also inspired a number of young players like Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman.
He won the European Cup in 1992 as the manager of Barcelona. Cruyff stopped coaching Barcelona in 1996 but continued to be an advisor to the club. Later on, he also became the Technical Director of AFC Ajax.
Cruyff got himself involved in all the facets of Football and tasted success in each one of them. Naturally, tributes poured in when he succumbed to cancer in 2016.