Johan Cruyff: One of the game’s true geniuses leaves us for a better place

24 Mar

In later years if I ever wanted Cruyff to comment on something about English football he was always a willing contributor, for a fee, punctual either on the telephone or subsequent meetings.


He was arrogant in that Dutch way, but I would prefer to call it supreme confidence. ‘I know I am a good player’ he would remark. ‘But I want to be better than that. If in 20 years time people talk about me I would be happy.’

Of course the famous Cruyff turn where he could take the ball with his left foot and then flick it behind his right foot, to totally destroy defenders became one of the most viewed and talked about skills that only boosted his unbelievable talent. It is still analysed on football coaching courses today.

Moore called him ‘the genius’ and loved to talk to him about his philosophies on the game, his dreams, his enthusiam. For me it was an education. I’d just remain silent, ears open tongue still, listening, learning, there was no better education, and it was all going on around me.

I saw Johan not so long ago and the first thing he said was to ask if I remembered our night out in Amsterdam. Who could forget it.

Johan was a great player, a great manager of Barcelona, a man who set new standards of ability, who constructed a dream and lived by it. No doubt he’s already up there seeking out Bobby to share the love affair they had for football.

Nigel Clarke was the Chief Sports Writer of a national newspaper in the 1970s and struck up a lasting friendship with Johan Cruyff, the man responsible for the revolution in football thinking that led to the creation of the attacking brand of football still played by Barcelona to today.  

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