- NAME: Johan Cruyff
- OCCUPATION: Soccer Player
- BIRTH DATE: April 25, 1947 (Age: 66)
- Did You Know?: In 1969, Cruyff recorded a pop song named "Oei Oei Oei (Dat Was Me Weer Een Loei)"
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Full Name: Hendrik Johannes Cruyff
- Nickname: El Flaco
- Nickname: The Flying Dutchman
- AKA: Johannes Cruyff
- AKA: Johan Cruyff
- ZODIAC SIGN: Taurus
Best Known For
Dutch soccer great Johan Cryuff won three European Player of the Year awards and led FC Barcelona to multiple titles as a manager.
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Johan Cruyff was born on April 25, 1947, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The centerpiece of the Dutch "Total Football" strategy, Cruyff was the first three-time European Player of the Year winner in a career that brought him from the Netherlands to Spain to the United States. A successful manager after his playing career ended, he was named European player of the 20th century in a prestigious poll.
"We showed the world you could enjoy being a footballer, you could laugh and have a fantastic time. I represent the era which proved that attractive football was enjoyable and successful."
Athlete Hendrik Johannes Cruyff was born on April 25, 1947, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Growing up near the stadium of AFC Ajax, the local soccer club, the youngster caught the attention of team officials and joined its youth division at age 10. His mother also began working for the club two years later, after her husband died of a heart attack.
Cruyff made his senior debut in 1964 for an Ajax team on the rise. At the time, manager Rinus Michels was preaching his "Total Football" strategy, in which players seamlessly rotated between positions on the field. The multitalented Cryuff proved perfect for this method; nominally a center-forward, he had the speed and intelligence to thrive wherever positioned. Between 1966 and 1973, Ajax won six Dutch championships, three European Cups and two UEFA Super Cups. In 1971, Cryuff became the first Dutch player to win the Ballon d'Or Award as European Footballer of the Year.
Cruyff transferred to FC Barcelona after the start of the 1973-'74 season and quickly made new fans by leading his team to a 5-0 thrashing of archrival Real Madrid en route to a league title. He won another Ballon d'Or Award halfway through his first season in Spain, and became the first three-time winner the following year.
In 1974, Cruyff made his only World Cup appearance for the Netherlands. Although they lost in the final to West Germany, the host country, the Dutch playmaker was named the top player of the tournament. Altogether, he scored 33 goals in 48 international appearances.
Cruyff announced his retirement after the 1978 season, but he resumed his career in the United States, playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1979-'80 and the Washington Diplomats the following year. After an injury-plagued season with the Spanish club Levante UD, he finished his career in the Netherlands with two more successful seasons with Ajax and one with Feyenoord.
Despite lacking formal coaching qualifications, Cryuff took over as manager of Ajax in 1985 and led the team to two Dutch Cups and a UEFA Cup Winner's Cup in three years.
His return to Barcelona in 1988 resulted in one of the most successful stretches in club history. From 1989 through 1994, the Cruyff-led "Dream Team" won four league titles, three Super Cups, a European Cup and a Copa Del Ray title. However, the pressure to win in Barcelona was intense; Cruyff underwent double heart bypass surgery in 1991, and he was fired at the end of the 1996 season after failing to win any significant titles over a two-year stretch.
Cruyff took the time to tend to his business interests, which included running the Johan Cruyff Foundation and the Johan Cruyff Institute.
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To Americans, it is soccer. Elsewhere, it is called football, calcio or nogomet. Whatever your preference, with estimates of more than 250 million participants across 200-plus countries, it is a game of unmatched global reach and popularity. It's been noted that one doesn't need special size or skills to play, but of course the game's all-time greats displayed dazzling combinations of speed, smarts and athletic ability throughout their careers. Look through our roster of soccer legends, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona, and you'll understand why this sport of many names is also known as "the beautiful game."
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