Barcelona: Football legend Johan Cruyff has died after a battle with cancer.
The Dutchman, 68, is considered one of the greatest players of all-time, having led the the famed Netherlands team of the 1970s, exponents of ‘Total Football’ and starring with Ajax and Barcelona, where he won nine league titles and was winner of the Ballon d’Or three times.
He also guided Holland to the World Cup Final in 1974. As a player Cruyff scored 392 times in 520 games over a 19-year career but his influence reached far beyond creating goals, thanks to his qualities as a leader, thinker and speaker. As a coach he had 242 victories in 387 matches, with 75 draws and 70 losses.
He was also considered an exceptional manager, winning four Spanish titles in charge of Barcelona.
A short statement on his official website read: “On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) 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.”
Renowned former as well as current footballers have flooded Twitter with their tweets giving a tribute to this player, who is considered one of the greatest footballer of all time. The current and five-times world player of the year, Lionel Messi, was among the first to pay tribute to Cruyff, writing on his Twitter account: “RIP Johan Cruyff. Your legacy will live on forever.”
The Belgium captain and Manchester City central defender Vincent Kompany was quick to follow suit. “Johan Cruyff, true football royalty. I don’t think anyone has ever influenced the game as much as he has done. We have all been touched and inspired by his vision and his believes. Football will miss him but we will never forget. #JohanCruyff.”
Ruud Gullit, who played with Cruyff at Feyenoord, said: “I’m perplexed, I thought he was getting better. Holland lost a face in the world. He put our football on the map. Furthermore he’s been extremely important for my career.”