Hendrik Johannes ‘Johan’ Cruyff (spelled ‘Cruijff’ within the Netherlands) is a retired Dutch football player, manager and coach. He is known for his skill in the field and he was also voted European Football Player of the Year three times – 1971, 1973 and 1974. Marco Van Basten and Michel Platini hold the same record.
He is known for having perfected a divisive football strategy better known as the ‘Cruyff Turn’. In this turn, he would fake an attempt to kick or pass the ball, but would instead turn the other way around. He is also known for being a proponent of ‘Total Football’. Total Football is a game strategy where when one player moves away from his post, another takes his place in order to maintain the integrity of the team’s defense.
Cruyff started out playing for his original team Ajax. He later on moved to Barcelona where he quickly won over fans. When he was 32, Cruyff was given a lucrative offer to play in the United States. While there he moved from club to club until he decided to move to Spain and later on go back to the Netherlands.
Cruyff retired in 1984, after that he became as successful manager of his boyhood club – Ajax. He later moved on to managing FC Barcelona. In 2008, plans were announced for Cruyff to return to Ajax as a technical director. However, he later said that he was delaying his plans to return to Ajax because of a difference in opinion between him and Ajax manager Marco Van Basten. Van Basten is also a former footballer who like Cruyff has been named European Footballer of the Year thrice.
In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century. He came in second to Pele in a poll conducted to determine the ‘World Player of the Century’.
Cruyff’s son Jordi is also a professional footballer.
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