Hendrik Johannes Cruijff, or Johan Cruyff as he is popularly known, is an attacking midfielder who is often thought to be one of the greatest football players of all-time. Apart from being well known for his playing days, Johan Cruyff is also well remembered for introducing the ‘total football’ concept in the modern-day football. He is one of the few players in the world to have lifted the famous Ballon d’Or trophy on three occasions. He is considered as a legend at both Ajax and Barcelona – two extremely huge clubs in Europe.
Johan Cruyff began his youth career with Ajax before making the professional debut for the Dutch team in the 1964 season. He went on to make 240 appearances for Ajax in just under 10 years, while he also maintained an incredible scoring record of getting nearly 200 goals from the same. FC Barcelona purchased Johan Cruyff for a fee of around US$ 20 million in 1973, which was a record fee. He soon justified the enormous price tag by continuing the quite impressive style of football for Barcelona as well.
Even though he was not as successful in terms of the goal ratio, he still managed a very healthy 48 goals from nearly 150 appearances, which is remarkable for a midfielder. In terms of the number of trophies won, his Barcelona career was not able to match the cherished moments of the Ajax career, but still Johan Cruyff won the la Liga title and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona. He decided to end his Barcelona stay in 1979 after signing for American team Los Angeles Aztecs. From then on, Johan Cruyff moved around quite a lot before returning to Ajax in 1981. He spent three more seasons in Dutch football with both Ajax and Feyenoord before eventually retiring in 1984.
He made his international debut in 1966 for the Dutch national team and retired in 1977 after making 48 appearances and scoring 33 goals.
Johan Cruyff has won eight Eredivisie with Ajax along with the three European Cups. The three European Cups came in succession – 1971, 1972, and 1973. He has also won the UEFA Super Cup and the UEFA Intertoto Cup. He managed to lift his ninth Eredivisie with Feyenoord in his final season.
Johan Cruyff returned to football, but in the form of a manager with Ajax. Even though he did not lead the team to League success, he won the KNVB Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. He then signed for Barcelona in 1988 and is probably regarded as one of the biggest reason for the change in the Barcelona philosophy. He led Barcelona to four la Liga titles, one European cup, one UEFA super cup, one UEFA cup winners’ cup, and three Supercopa de España titles.
Individually, he has been awarded the Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1967, while he also went on to be called as the European Player of the Century XX by IFFHS. He was included into the FIFA 100 list in 2004.