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Hendrik Johannes Cruijff--

Hold on. Is it Cruijff or Cruyff? Well, in Dutch names the interchangeability of the digraph ‘ij’ and the letter ‘y’ is quite frequent. (Long story short: when the Dutch read their alphabet aloud, the letter ‘y’ is pronounced as the letter combination ‘ij’ would be.)

Many footballers write their names with an ‘y’ mainly for commercial reasons as Van Nistelrooy or Dirk Kuyt.

-- was born in Amsterdam on 25 April, 1947. Not only were his parents Ajax supporters as well, but they lived oppsite Ajax’ old stadium, De Meer. When he was hanging around the training grounds one day the youth coach seeing his interest said: “Let him play, at least he does something.” Cruijff started to train with Ajax at the age of seven, but he only became part of the club three years later as there was no admission for children under ten. He got his membership card on his birthday. (His youth coach played a very important part of his carreer as he said in this interview given to UEFA.)

His father died when Johan was twelve years old and he left school to focus on a full-time and formal training with Ajax a year later.

He made his first team debut at the age of nineteen and scored Ajax’ only goal in a 3-1 defeat against GVAV. He played another nine games that season and scored three more goals but after they have finished on the 13th place, Vic Buckingham was replaced by Rinus Michels.

Totaalvoetbal. It is a style built on a particular conception of space. The defense makes the pitch as small as possible, compressing the opponent, making them vulnerable to pressing and offside traps. In attack they made the pitch as large as possible to give the players time and space and the ball was given to the player who had the most of these. Rinus assembled a group of players who could play in any position to make it possible to rotate them and switched to 4-4-3.

David Miller dubbed Cruijff as “Pythagoras in boots” for his mathematical use of the dimensions of the pitch.

"Both as a player and as a trainer there is nobody who taught me as much as him. I will miss Rinus Michels. I always greatly admired his leadership." -- Cruijff after his mentor's death.

In the 1965/66 season Ajax won the Eredivisie with Cruijff scoring 23 goals in 25 games. He made his debut in the same season for the Oranje in an Euro 1968 qualifier against Hungary and scored a goal in a 2-2 draw. In his next game with the Elftal he received a red card - the first ever Dutch player to do so in an international game - and with that a year long ban from playing with his national team.

The next season he was awarded the #9 shirt confirming his status as a key player in Ajax and staying true to that role he became the Eredivisie’s tops scorer with 33 goals. They won the domestic title again.

In 1969 Ajax advanced to the European Cup final against AC Milan but they lost 4-1. And yet, it was an important experience for Michels because he realised that they had to develop a plan to combat a tighter, counter-attacking side.
In the preseason of the 1970/71 campaign Cruijff suffered a groin injury that kept reoccurring throughout his career. He had to miss the first three months of the season, but funnily enough, it led him to getting the famous #14 shirt. In the spring of 2007, a week before his birthday, Ajax retired the number 14 jersey in his honour.

His made his return on 30th October in a match against Alkmaar and scored 6 goals in a 8-1 win. He was only 24 at the time.

Cruijff started to become more important on and off the pitch. For example, he was the head of the cinema. Ajax (or Rinus) had the habit of playing a movie before the game. If the team was too relaxed, they would watch a war film, if too tense, a comedy.
Ajax made the European Cup final against Panathinaikos (a side assembled by Puskás whom I actually met once. And have somewhere his autograph.) which Ajax won by two goals. Ajax lost the Eredivisie the same season and Rinus Michels left for Barcelona.

Cruijff was rumoured to leave with Michels, but he signed an astonishing seven-year contract extension in the summer of 1971.

In the coming season his influence increased further and not just in which movie they were going to watch. He had a say in the selection. Under Stefan Kovács the players were less disciplined and interestingly it led to their most successful season as they won their first ever treble.

At the age of 25 he was already the boss on the field but now he became the captain as well.  Ajax won the Eredivisie (Cruijff’s 6th in 9 seasons) and their third European Cup.
He was the highest paid player of the Club, he questioned his teammates rather than himself and he had an unjustifiable influence over Kovács. His popularity dropped among his teammates and they didn’t elect him as the captain next season. Some say that it was the reason behind his decision to leave his childhood club and follow Michels to Barcelona.
He came the most expensive player with a transfer fee of 2 million dollars.


Cruijff was seen as ‘El Salvador’ in Barcelona and won the Catalan hearts when he rejected Real Madrid’s offer because of their association with Franco. He debuted on 28th October in 1973 in a match against Granada and from that game on they remained unbeaten for five months. The spell included a manita against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu. He helped the club win the La Liga for the first time since 1960.

He scored one of his most memorable goals, "The Phantom Goal”, against Athlético Madrid:

He disaggreed with the way the youth system was run, that all levels played differently. His principles were:

1) every youth level must be trained based on the same concepts, in the same formation - 3-4-4

2) the top kids had to be pushed out of their comfort zones and played one or two ages groups ahead

3) ‘perlas de la cantera’ needed accelerated promotion into the first team.

Josep Lluís Nunez Barca’s then-president inaugurated La Masia as the club’s youth academy on a recommendation from Cruyff in 1979.

The next year he captained the Oranje in their first ever major international tournament, the World Cup in West Germany in 1974.

It was a group game against Sweden that Johan made that infamous turn. Full back Jan Olsson who was at the recieving end of the trick said after the game: “It was the proudest moment of my carrer.”

The Oranje went to the final and had to play against Germany but they lost 2-1 and it was Cruijff’s last World Cup match. Frank Rijkaard: “The disappointment of ‘74 and the Godfather (Cruijff) inspired me to make a carreer out of football.”

In 1977, a year before the 1978 World Cup, Cruijff retired from international football. He resented the dictatorship in Argentina where the tournament was held and he claimed that he and his family were kidnapped from their apartment in Barcelona. The Oranje made the final and lost again and as we know not for the last time.
At the age of 32, he headed to the United States.

He played one season with them respectively and scored 24 goals in 54 games.

In 1988, at the age of 33, he moved Levante - then in the Segunda Division. Thanks to an injury and a fall-out with the manager he only played 10 games with them and failed to secure their promotion to the first division. He went back to the Diplomats for a couple of months.

In 1980 he was watching the the league game berween Ajax and Twente from the stands. He felt frustrated by Ajax’s performance (the were losing 1-3) and coming down from the stands started to giving advice to Ajax’ coach Leo Beenhakker, who let Cruijff to take over. Ajax ended up winning 5-3...

Later he returned to the club as a technical adviser. When he arrived Ajax were 8th on the table, 2nd at the end of the season. As he had never really retired, he signed a playing contract a year later and scored 7 goals in 15 league games in the 1981/82 season and helped the team win the Eredivisie. The next season brought another league title and a Dutch Cup for Ajax with Cruijff scoring 9 goals in 30 appearances.

The club refused to offer the 36 year old player a new contract and he signed  for arch-rivals Feyenoord. With his assictance the team won the Eredivise and the Cup.

His final game was on 13th May in 1984 against PEC Zwolle.

He became a coach at Ajax in 1986 (he lacked proper qualifications to coach even a reserve team). He saw the players as people rather than numbers as Michels did. He knew that man-management became a key component. He brought through Rijkaard, Bergkamp and Van Basten. They won the Champions League in 1995. He left three years later because he grew frustrated with Ajax’ board.

1988, a return to Barcelona. He continued his philosophy and left an impact on Barca’s  tiki-taka foundations and La Masia. He signed vital parts of the dream team such as Koeman, Txiki Begiristain, Laudrup, Romárió, Stoichkov and Pep Guardiola. He won 11 titles in his 8-year spell up to 1996.  He was only surpassed by Pep.

That gives me even greater pride. I haven’t worked for 15 years and he is making me even more famous. So, how am I supposed to be jealous of someone who is maintaining my prestige? What more could I ask for? What’s even better is that this is the best way for this philosophy to stay on its feet and bearing witness to the admiration that he provokes, for however small it is, that little rascal [laughter]. If you pick up any newspaper in the world and there is an article talking about the great style of Barça, my name always appears and makes me even more famous. Oh, that it lasts, that it lasts.” -- Johan Cruijff

After the 5-0 against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu Pep said: “This is a result of the last 15-20 years. We’re trying to take care of the legacy of Cruijff and others.”

In his last two years as a coach of Barcelona he failed to win anything and fell out with president Nunez. He was sacked on 18th May in 1996 -- in the dressing room.

He supported Laporta to victory in the presidental elections. In March 2010 he was named honorary president of the club in recognition of his contribution to the club both as a player and a manager. A year later Rosell stripped him of his title.

He was to be the manager of the Dutch national team but pulled out of the negotiations as he suffered a heart attack and needed a bypass operation. He was a heavy a smoker.


He is currently the manager of  Catalan national team and was a member of the Ajax board up until last Tuesday.

I don’t really want to get into what’s been happening at Ajax because it’s closer to a soap opera than the comings and goings of a professional football club and I lost the plot around December. His position is unclear now but he’s mostly likely to stay as an adviser (aka running the shop from the background).


1) Cruijffiaans a.k.a “Johan Cruijff’s wisdom”. One-liners.

"Every disadvantage has its advantage."

“Football is simple. But nothing is more difficult than playing simple football.”

“If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend, because there’s only one ball”

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

“He is a great goalscorer. But a poor footballer.” --on Ruud van Nistelrooy

2) Personal life
In 1968 Johan married Danny Coster. They have three children together: Chantal, Susila and Jordi. Jordi played for Barca while his father was the manager, and later for Manchester United or Espanyol. He’s currently the Director of Football at AEK Larnaca.
3) He was voted the 6th Greatest Dutchman in public poll held in 2004. Rinus Michels was the 54th.

4) In 1979, guess what, Johan decided to develop his own sports brand. His vision was a brand that was both stylish and functional. Their football shoes were worn by Bergkamp or Van Basten and the Dutch olympic team wore “Cruyff” in Seoul, 1988.

Oei oie oei (Das Was Me Weer een Loei) was recored by a 22-year-old Cruijff in 1969. It became a hit in the Netherlands and Spain when it was re-released following Cruijff’s move to Barcelona. Apparently he needed a couple of drinks to ease his nervousness before recording...
The song was written by Peter Koelewijn who said later: “[Cruijff] ]could not sing, could not hold a note, had no sense of rhythm and was a pack of nerves” And yet, the song reached the #21 spot on the charts.

6) The Dutch Super Cup is named after him - Johan Cruijff Schaal.

7) Little Johan used to work as the deliverer for Sport World pre-Michels.

8) His niece is married to Ruud Gullit.


20 a day..

I hope you didn't think I would give you one Barca-era picture...smh.

Johan the fashionista. Who would have thought.

He looks so happy and vintage. I love it.

I bet he only weighed 68kg because of the bracelet...

Dem hips. (I have no problem perving on YOUNG Cruijff.)

God, I fell in love with vintage football photography while making this TMI.


With Beckenbauer.

OTP 2.0?

Some Louis Vuitton shoot

That's Koeman, Stoichkov, Cruijff, Laudrup and Witschge.

With Jordi

The Turn.

Attempting to do the Cruijff turn

Look at that magnificent pink belly.

This spam is getting really long, I know. But it's not as long as Cruijff's leg. Yet.

Is still anybody in this post? 

Recent picture. The fans reaction after the Van Gaal thing.

Judging somebody, I bet.

OTP 3.0

We are almost there...

Well, ummm...okay. 

(There is a really nice photo archive on Cruyff's official website if you would like to see more.)

Sources in no particular order: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 with the assistance of the mighty Wikipedia and Google Picture Search.



( 36 comments — Speak )
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Feb. 14th, 2012 10:03 am (UTC)
That's glorious post and gorgious picspam!!!! Awsome dear!
Feb. 14th, 2012 10:16 am (UTC)
thank you!
Feb. 14th, 2012 10:08 am (UTC)
i have so many feelings right now. about this fantastic post and about Cruyff in particular.

there's rumours in romania that Kovacs was just a puppet and that Cruyff ran the show. i'm particularly fond of the rumour that he'd come to the drssing room to find the the boys smoking and playing poker ahaha

also, in many pics young Cruyff looks like Mr. Orange [Tim Roth] which is highly appropriate.

this is an amazing post and the picpam! is! fabulous! Cruyff was sexy :D
Feb. 14th, 2012 10:21 am (UTC)
lol yes, his hand reached and still reaches quite far! Imo that was a huge factor in his success, that he was/is good at the politics of football
Feb. 14th, 2012 10:12 am (UTC)
and ... 68 kg????????? Damn! This guys is 1,80 m !!! Xavi is 68 kg!!!!! Damn Johan you were skinny!
Feb. 14th, 2012 10:27 am (UTC)
it's because muscle mass wasn't as important back then as it is now. now footballers are, most of them, really buff and muscular.
(no subject) - elizaberglund - Feb. 14th, 2012 10:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - renigallagher - Feb. 14th, 2012 10:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elizaberglund - Feb. 14th, 2012 10:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 14th, 2012 11:33 am (UTC)
I am loving this post. And squeeing a lot.

I found my love for Cruijff when I was 16 and living in Holland for a year. I had no interest in football whatsoever but a) well... vintage football always had some kind of... coolness about it and b) he always cracked me up. XD
Feb. 14th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
Awesome, in wich town did you live?
(no subject) - icanseenow - Feb. 14th, 2012 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 14th, 2012 11:35 am (UTC)

Such fab vintage pics. In fact, fab entire post! <33333

I think my favourite description of him I ever read was "an iconoclastic perfectionist built like a ballerina and prone to unexplained freak-outs". And this was in a 'why we love him' paragraph. :3
Feb. 14th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
IA, a 100% accurate description
(no subject) - louis_quatorze - Feb. 14th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 14th, 2012 12:52 pm (UTC)
Wow. What a glorious post!

I particularly love this quote so much:
“In my teams, the goalie is the first attacker, and the striker the first defender.”

We really owe a lot to this guy. Bow.
Feb. 14th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
Really love the pics you presented here. I love vintage pictures and can I say that Cruijff looked the hottest whilst he was in Barça :P

Maybe I'm bias but damn.

Edited at 2012-02-14 12:54 pm (UTC)
Feb. 14th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
well, he was 26 when he joined Barca, so I'd say he was in his prime, ahem, if you know what I mean..
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2012 06:31 am (UTC)
no, thank thank *you* for reading!
Feb. 14th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
Great post! Nice to hear and see more of the man who brought total football to Barcelona!

“If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend, because there’s only one ball”

This describes so perfectly how Barca plays. It works great when we're having a good day and passing very precisely. Unfortunately, once we lose the ball, we are forced to defend... and lately some of our players have not been so good at that :P.
Feb. 15th, 2012 06:31 am (UTC)
thank you!
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
This is such a beautiful post, thank you! Applauds.

I love the vintage shoes, i'd wear them, they look ~fashion~ :P
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
I have a pair of current Cruyff sneakers, and they are fine as hell. (Only problem is that the women's line is kind of tacky, but at least my feet are big enough to fit into small men's size.)
(no subject) - renigallagher - Feb. 15th, 2012 06:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
Awesome post! Love the picspam.
Feb. 15th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)
that was my favourite part to do :)
Feb. 14th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
In the picture of the ajax-audience the banner says: we staan achter je, wich means: we are right behind you.

Nice, right?

Johan was big for Barca, but I ignore the fact he was an ajaxplayer...
Sucks big time! He played 1 season for Feyenoord, and was never to be seen again. :(((

Furthermore: your post/topic is epic coolness, you did one hell of a great job, respect! (L) it
Feb. 15th, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
thank you!

I'm sort of ignoring that he played for Feyenoord as well :P
Feb. 14th, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC)

this post <3
This man is flawless and wonderful and god damn it all we pretty much owe him our club.
Beautiful post, darling. I have a thing for vintage footie pics too, urgh.
Feb. 15th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC)
thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC)
awww come on, it's not that great. But thank you!!
Feb. 15th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
It took some time before I got time to read this, but it was worth the wait! Thank you, it's awesome, and the picspam could've been longer if you ask me hehe xD

And omg, I noticed something; is this the person I think it is? THE OBSERVER!?
Feb. 16th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
(no subject) - renigallagher - Feb. 16th, 2012 10:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhiakuwela - Feb. 16th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 36 comments — Speak )

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