Johan Cruyff was a professional footballer and coach from the Netherlands. He won the Ballon d'Or three times as a player, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff is generally regarded as being one of the greatest and most influential players in the history of the sport and had been a promoter of the football theory known as Total Football, which was pioneered by Rinus Michels. Dutch soccer grew through obscurity and semi-professional status in the 1960s and 1970s to be a force to reckon in the sport. Cruyff took the Netherlands to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final and was named the tourney's Golden Ball winner. In the 1974 finals, he performed a feint known as the "Cruyff Turn," which has since been commonly imitated in the modern game. Cruyff was named European Player of the Century in a survey conducted by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics in 1999, and he finished second to Pelé in the World Player of the Century poll. Cruyff passed away in March 2016 after battling cigarette-related lung problems for many years.
Here we take a look at some pretty unknown facts about Cruyff:
1. Cruyff was almost signed by Leicester City in 1981. Johan was reportedly willing to join manager Jock Wallace at Leicester's Filbert Street stadium, but after three weeks of negotiations, he decided to join the Spanish club Levante then.
2. The Dutch never lost a match in which Cruyff scored. In 48 appearances for Orange, Johan scored 33 goals.
3. In 2010, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) named a planetoid after Cruyff. ‘He wasn’t only a great football player; he also helped others with his foundation. And that is why he is the first Dutch sports champion to shine in the sky,’ it was said at the time.
4. Cruyff was assured that his skill was worth a fortune from a young age, and he proved to be a skilled negotiator. He was among the first players to sign a full professional contract with Ajax at the age of 18, and he demanded and received four times the amount the club wanted.
5. Cruyff’s father wanted him to take up football. After his father died, he became even more motivated to become a football player as a way of honouring his father. Eventually, he became the greatest Dutch footballer of all time due to his mother's efforts as a cleaner at Ajax and his stepfather's encouragement.
6. Johan not only was involved with the football side of Ajax's academy, and also with the baseball side, where he excelled as a pitcher and catcher behind the plate.
7. He didn't play in the 1978 World Cup as he was afraid of leaving his family in the aftermath of a kidnapping attempt, it was recently reported. That was not the case. The competition was held in conjunction with the premiere of the new season of Happy Days, Cruyff's favourite show.
8. In 1987, Cruyff took over as manager of Barcelona. Cruyff already named his cat General Franco, so it was bad news for him. With his relocation to Catalonia, he would have to drastically alter his lifestyle. Regrettably, he changed the unfortunate cat's name to Alfredo di Stefano, oblivious to the fact that it was identical to the former Real Madrid legend.
9. Cruyff was once asked by a Dutch magazine who he would invite to his ideal dinner party. Roy 'Chubby' Brown, Mike Tyson, Sue Pollard, Harpo Marx, and Henry Winkler were among Cruyff's top choices.