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Johan Cruyff loses battle to cancer

AFP
Published : Mar 25, 2016, 7:40 am IST
Updated : Mar 25, 2016, 7:40 am IST

Johan Cruyff, one of the greatest footballers in history, died on Thursday at the age of 68 after losing his battle with cancer, leaving an astonishingly rich legacy behind him.

Johan Cruyff in this file photo. (Photo: AP)
 Johan Cruyff in this file photo. (Photo: AP)

Johan Cruyff, one of the greatest footballers in history, died on Thursday at the age of 68 after losing his battle with cancer, leaving an astonishingly rich legacy behind him.

One of the most exciting and gifted players ever to take the pitch, winning almost everything at club level in a glorious career not only as a player but also as a coach with Ajax and Barcelona.

The Dutchman was also the lynchpin of the Holland side, the driving force at the heart of his nations push to the World Cup final in 1974 where they lost a narrow and hard fought match 1-2 to West Germany.

What the Dutch did win was a great deal of admiration for their idea of “total football”, which first attracted attention at that time along with Johan Neeskens and Ruud Krol. It was to be his only appearance at a World Cup.

After that run to the 1974 final he won the third of his three Ballon dOr titles as he towered above the European game, having led Ajax to the European Cup three times in 1971, 1972 and 1973.

Cruyff had it all — vision, speed, passing ability and the knack of getting into attacking positions, a genius that resulted in 33 goals in 48 games at national level.

He once said that he sometimes preferred to hit the post than score, so much did he love the sound, and always said he was in the sport for its beauty, rather than merely to win. He turned professional at 17 and quickly made the number 14 shirt one to be feared.

Location: Spain, Katalonia, Barcelona