Football lost one of its greatest players, coaches, administrators, personalities, influencers today, when the legendary Johan Cruyff passed away on Tuesday after a hard-fought battle with lung cancer. He was 68.
We could spend all day listing his accomplishments, both as a player and as a manager — he's only one of the greatest players to have ever lived and of course the name behind the Cruyff Turn — but perhaps his biggest and most lasting impact on the game of football will be as a proponent of Total Football, best exemplified by the successes of Ajax Amsterdam (and their youth academy) and of course FC Barcelona (and their academy), which were built on his ideas, ideals, and systems. His outspoken nature and strong personality didn't always rub people the right way, but without him, the landscape of modern football would be very different than it is today.
Current Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink was not only one Cruyff's compatriots and colleagues, but was also a friend.
"I received the news of Johan's death with immense sadness. Firstly, I have lost a friend. I knew Johan well for many years and we spent time together in both the Netherlands and Spain."
"Johan was a great man and always made sure he remained approachable to many people. His influence on the game, both as a player and a coach, cannot be overstated. We will miss him very much, but football will forever be indebted to his genius. What he taught us about the game is still as relevant now as it was 40 years ago."
"My thoughts are with his wife Danny and his family at this very sad time."
-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC
RIP, Johan Cruyff.