“Winning is an important thing, but to have your own style… that is the greatest gift.”
Former Ajax and F.C. Barcelona star, Johan Cruyff, has passed away from lung cancer at the age of 68. Considered one of the greatest soccer players to ever grace the pitch, Cruyff leaves behind a legacy to the game virtually unrivaled by anyone else, on both the player and managerial levels.
A statement from his official website was released Thursday morning:
“On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer.
“It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
In his day, Cruyff won three consecutive European Cups with Ajax from 1971-1973, saw the Dutch side through to the 1974 World Cup final, where they were bested 2-1 by West Germany, and then went on to coach F.C. Barcelona to their first European Cup victory in 1992 as well as four successive La Liga titles between 1991 and 1994.
In the wake of the legend’s passing, the Dutch Football Association also offered up some moving condolences.
“Words can hardly be found for this huge loss.”
“The greatest Dutch footballer of all time and one of the world’s best ever. Our condolences go to his wife, family, friends and the entire football world at home and abroad. We wish everyone a lot of strength in this difficult time.”
The victories and triumphs aside, Cruyff might be held in highest regard for his refinement of what has become known as the “Cruyff turn,” which he unveiled in the 23rd minute of the Group 3 game between Holland and Sweden at the 1974 World Cup.
Pffffff World Class, over and over.
Cruyff was a lifelong smoker until 1991 when he underwent heart surgery, and his battle with lung cancer was only made public last year. Without a doubt, many pints around the world will be raised to his name tonight.
In memoriam, here’s a look at some of Johan Cruyff’s most impressive moments…
And even more…
And oh yeah, you remember that cheeky Messi penalty everyone lost their minds over a few weeks back? Yeah, Johan Cruyff did that first, some 40 years ago.