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How Cruyff saved a young Guardiola from Barcelona axe

The Catalan giants were supposedly ready to sell the young midfielder because they considered him “scrawny and bad defensively”.

Pep Guardiola pictured in his playing days.
Pep Guardiola pictured in his playing days.

JOHAN CRUYFF STOPPED Barcelona from selling Pep Guardiola to a second division club when he took over as coach at Camp Nou.

Guardiola went on to become one of the cornerstones of Cruyff’s successful Barca side that won four consecutive league titles between 1991 and 1994 and the European Cup in 1992, and then went on to guide the club to 14 trophies between 2008 and 2012.

Cruyff’s autobiography, which he wrote before passing away in March of this year, is released later this week, and in it he reveals that Guardiola was regarded as something of a liability by Barca coaches.

“Barca wanted to get rid of him,” Cruyff writes. “They considered him scrawny, bad defensively and ineffective in the air. What nobody saw was that he had the basic qualities to go far: he had game intelligence, speed in his execution, technique. If I hadn’t been at Barcelona, for sure he would have been sold to a Segunda Division club.”

Cruyff promoted Guardiola to the Barca first team in 1990 when the now Manchester City manager was just 19 years old.

He became a first team regular by the time he was 20, and Cruyff, who won the European Cup three times with Ajax as a player, says the two men shared a similar route to the top.

“I told him that above everything else, you have to be the boss, the one that makes the decisions and is responsible for the consequences. In that sense, Pep followed the same path and guidelines that I did.”

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