Johan Cruyff, the mad Dutch genius who provided the world with an unsurpassed combination of beauty, grit, and guile in his game, sadly has passed after a battle with cancer. Regarded as one of the sport’s greats, his exploits on the field are etched indelibly in the history of the sport and in the bowels of the clubs he became synonymous with, AFC Ajax and FC Barcelona. He was a pioneer of the game as well, becoming involved with the NASL during its infancy, having played for both the LA Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats (aka the “Dips”). ** Sidenote: I purposely linked to these images of Cruyff’s days in the NASL so you all could see just how stereotypically 70s/80s the kits, shorts, MUSTACHES, and HAIR were. The guy from the Philadelphia Fury is definitely my favorite part of these pictures, just check the hair AND the kit. Hellooooo 1978! **
He gave us the Cruyff turn:
Something I was taught as an 11-year-old and asked to reenact…..certainly ineffectively. Cruyff held the soccer world by the scruff of its neck and commanded it as he saw fit, just ask the poor sod in the video above. Although his Oranje were at the height of their successful swashbuckling style in the ’70s, the game’s biggest prize always eluded the Dutchman, falling in back-to-back World Cup Finals.
But what he was truly famous for was not only his love of the sport but his love for the sport to be played the way he felt it was meant to – beautifully and with purpose. Something perfectly captured by the man himself:
Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.
There are many players, coaches, and even entire clubs that rally behind this ethos today – Barca being the obvious standard bearer. Certainly something that won’t shock followers of the Beautiful Game, as the Dutch legend has become synonymous with the Catalan outfit.
Today, the soccer world is in mourning, another pioneer is gone and the number 14 will never look the same. Rust in vrede Johan, we welcome you to the Pantheon of the Soccer Gods.
Hands clasped we pray for olé…