Fans of FC Barcelona remember Johan Cruyff fondly for both his time as a player for the club in the 1970s and then as the longest serving and most successful manager in the club’s history.
Cruyff’s footballing career began with Dutch club Ajax, who he had joined on his tenth birthday, debuting for the first team aged 17 in 1964 and the following season his 25 goals helped Ajax to win the league.
The 1966-67 season was even better for Johan Cruyff; not only did Ajax win the league again, but Cruyff ending the season as the leading goal scorer in the Dutch league. With a total of 33 goals to his credit he was named Dutch footballer of the year, an award he received for the two following seasons.
Cruyff’s move to Barcelona came in 1973 and he quickly won favour with the Catalan supporters by saying that Real Madrid had never been an due to its association with Franco. His second season at FC Barcelona saw them win the league for first time since 1960 and humiliating Real Madrid in a 5-0 win at Santiago Bernabeu. While at Barcelona he was awarded the prestigious European Player of the Year twice in a row.
In 1979, aged 32, Johan Cruyff moved to America, where he first played for the Los Angeles Aztecs for just one season followed by Washington Diplomats. At the beginning of the 1981 season he returned to Spain, where he played for Levante, quickly followed by a move back to Ajax. However in 1983 Ajax failed to renew his contract and signing for Feyenoord, Ajax’s arch-rival, he helped win the Dutch league.
Johan Cruyff also had a successful international career, appearing for Holland 48 times and scoring 33 goals, refusing to participate in the 1986 World Cup in Argentina because of the alleged used of torture and murder practised by the Junta then in power.
Retiring as a player, he Cruyff’s career as a manager started with Ajax, but it was at Barcelona, which he rejoined in 1988, that was the highlight of his management career.
With 11 titles won between1988 and 1997, his time as manager is considered to be one of the golden eras for the club and the side he assembled, commonly referred to as “The Dream Team”, won the Spanish league title for four successive years between 1991 and 1994.