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A Look Back - Johan Cruyff ... The genius behind total football & tiki-taka (Mechanical Orange & FC Barcelona)

By Joshua Molari, 04/27/17, 12:15PM EDT


"Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff, anglicised to Cruyff; 25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was the most famous exponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history. In the 1970s, Dutch football rose from near obscurity to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. At the 1974 finals he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him, the Cruyff Turn, a move widely replicated in the modern game.

Johan CruyffAt club level, Cruyff started his career at Ajax, where he won eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup. In 1973, he moved to Barcelona for a world record transfer fee, winning La Liga in his first season and was named European Footballer of the Year. After retiring from playing in 1984, Cruyff became highly successful as manager of Ajax and later Barcelona; he remained an influential advisor to both clubs. His son Jordi also played football professionally.

In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll. He came third in a vote organised by the French magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect their Football Player of the Century. He was chosen on the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

Considered to be one of the most influential figures in football history, Cruyff's style of play and his football philosophy has influenced managers and players, including Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola, Michael Laudrup, Arsène Wenger, Eric Cantona and Xavi. Ajax and Barcelona are among the clubs that have developed youth academies based on Cruyff's coaching methods. His coaching philosophy helped lay the foundations for the revival of Ajax's international successes in the 1990s. Spanish football's successes at both club and international level during the years 2008 to 2012 have been cited by many as evidence of Cruyff's impact on contemporary football. In 2017, Cruyff was named among the 10 greatest coaches since the foundation of UEFA in 1954."

Source: Wikipedia




  • Eredivisie: 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1981–82, 1982–83
  • KNVB Cup: 1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1982–83
  • European Cup: 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73; Runner-up: 1968–69
  • UEFA Super Cup: 1972
  • Intertoto Cup (2): 1961–62, 1968 (Group A2 winner)
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1972


  • La Liga: 1973–74
  • Copa del Rey: 1977–78


  • Eredivisie: 1983–84
  • KNVB Cup: 1983–84


  • FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1974
  • UEFA European Championship Third place: 1976


  • Eredivisie Runner-up: 1986–87
  • KNVB Cup: 1985–86, 1986–87
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1986–87


  • La Liga: 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94; Runner-up: 1988–89
  • European Cup/UEFA Champions League: 1991–92; Runner-up: 1993–94
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1988–89; Runner-up: 1990–91
  • Copa del Rey: 1989–90
  • UEFA Super Cup: 1992
  • Supercopa de España: 1991, 1992, 1994



  • Cruyff receiving the 1971 Ballon d'Or
  • Dutch Footballer of the Year: 1968, 1972, 1984
  • Ballon d'Or: 1971, 1973, 1974; Third place: 1975
  • Dutch Sportsman of the Year: 1973, 1974
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1974
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1974
  • Don Balón Award: 1977, 1978
  • North American Soccer League MVP: 1979
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • World Team of the 20th Century
  • FIFA 100
  • World Soccer's Greatest XI of All Time: 2013
  • World Soccer's The Greatest Players of the 20th Century: #3
  • France Football's Player of the Century: #3
  • IFFHS European Player of the Century: #1
  • IFFHS World Player of the Century: #2


  • World Soccer Awards Manager of the Year: 1987
  • Don Balón Award for Coach of the Year: 1991, 1992
  • Onze d'Or for Coach of the Year: 1991, 1992
  • The 10 Greatest Coaches of the UEFA era
Orders and further honours
  • In 2002, Cruyff was promoted to Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
  • In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of the Netherlands by the KNVB as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.
  • On 22 May 2006, Cruyff was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to football by Laureus in their annual World Sports Awards.
  • Cruyff received a lifetime achievement award from the KNVB in August 2006.
  • In 2006, Cruyff played in Dennis Bergkamp's Testimonial as a second-half substitute with Ajax.
  • On 18 April 2007, Ajax decided to retire the number 14 shirt in honour of Cruyff and in celebration of his birthday.
  • In 2010, Cruyff was presented the FIFA Order of Merit (highest honour awarded by FIFA) for his significant contribution to football.
  • On 29 March 2016, the Prime Minister of Spain awarded Cruyff with the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit.
Johan Cruyff
Hendrik Johannes Cruijff

Playing Career

Youth Career
1957–1963     Ajax

Senior Career                                                      App  (Gls)
1964–1973     Ajax                                            240  (190)
1973–1978     Barcelona                               143  (48)
1979                    Los Angeles Aztecs              23  (13)
1980-1981      Washington Diplomats     30  (12)
1981                    Levante                                       10  (2)
1981-1983      Ajax                                               36  (14)
1983-1984      Feyenoord                                 33  (11)
Total                                                                          514  (290)

National team                                                     App  (Gls)
1966–1977     Netherlands                             48  (33)


Managing Career

1985–1988     Ajax
1988–1996     Barcelona
2009–2013     Catalonia