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Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff dies aged 68

The former Barcelona and Ajax player and manager had fought a long battle with lung cancer.

Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff
Image: EMPICS Sport

JOHAN CRUYFF HAS passed away today at the age of 68.

The Dutch football legend, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, revealed last October that he was battling lung cancer.

According to a statement issued by Cruyff’s website, the former Barcelona and Ajax player died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family.

The statement reads:

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.”

Cruyff was the talisman of the great Nertherlands team of the 1970s. The supremely talented playmaker, who was the most famous exponent of the Dutch side’s ‘Total Football’ style of play, guided his country to the 1974 World Cup final, where they lost 2-1 to hosts West Germany. Cruyff was named Player of the Tournament.

Capped 48 times, Cruyff — who won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions — scored 33 international goals and the Netherlands never lost a game in which he found the net.

Synonymous with the number 14 shirt, Cruyff is credited with setting a trend for players in a starting line-up wearing numbers outside of the usual 1-to-11. In 2007, to mark his 60th birthday, Ajax retired their number 14 shirt in his honour.

Cruyff started his career with the Amsterdam club in 1964 and departed for Barcelona in ’73. After five seasons with the Catalan giants, he spent a couple of years playing in the US, before returning to Europe to join Levante in Spain. He went back to Ajax for two seasons in ’81 and ended his playing career with a season at Feyenoord.

His time at Ajax yielded seven Dutch league titles, five Dutch Cups, three European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and an Intertoto Cup. He also added Dutch league and cup titles during his time with Feyenoord. He was a La Liga winner with Barcelona in 1974 and won the Copa del Rey in ’78.

Soccer - Barcelona Johan Cruyff celebrates a goal for Barcelona. Source: EMPICS Sport

Cruyff turned to management in 1985, guiding Ajax to back-to-back league titles in his first two seasons, as well as a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in ’87.

He then took over at Barca for eight seasons, presiding over four La Liga triumphs, one Copa del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups, a UEFA Super Cup and — most significantly — the club’s first ever European Cup in 1992.

Renowned for his attacking flair, he first demonstrated his own evasive move to deceive defenders — ‘The Cruyff Turn’ — during a 1974 World Cup game against Sweden.

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