Johan Cruyff aka Flying Dutchman, the legendary Dutch football striker and coach, has died of lung cancer at the age of 68. As a player, Cruyff was the embodiment of Dutch “total football”, a fluid style of play focused on ball possession and rapid passing, and involving all members of the team in both attack and defence.
- He emerged as one of the world’s greats in the early 1970s when he helped Ajax Amsterdam win three European Cups in a row from 1971-73, and he was named European Footballer of the Year in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
- He joined Barcelona for a then-world record transfer fee of $2.0 million, and it was the Catalan club that later defined his coaching career as he led them to their first La Liga title in nearly 15 years in 1974.
- He was also a key player in the great Netherlands team that reached the 1974 World Cup final.
- Cruyff had been a heavy smoker, and had had heart surgery in 1991.
- His death comes less than six months after he announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Did You Know?
- The World’s First Football Club was the English Sheffield Football Club. It was founded in 1857 by Colonel Nathaniel Cresswick and Major William Priest, two British Army officers.
- Only Americans and Canadians call football “soccer”.
- The ball used in professional football has remained exactly the same size and shape for 120 years – 28 inches in circumference.