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Om een Amsterdammer te zijn.

Bedankt Johan.


April 25, 1947 - March 24, 2016

It would be nice if the CSA would acknowledge the passing of the greatest Dutch player with a moment of silence prior to tomorrow's the World Cup qualifier against Mexico.

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18 minutes ago, red card said:

today's wcq in chile between chile & argentina had a moment of silence for both Cruyff and Belgium.

Netherlands game tom they will be stopping in the 14th minute (his #) and having a moment of silence.

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Thanks for starting the thread. Very emotional for us Barça fans, as it is for the Dutch. 

I have seen Johan a few times over the years in Barcelona, he has a house up in Muntanyà near a town called Vic where my wife is from, you could run into Johan and his wife at the main square on weekend market day. His foundation is dedicated to kids with psycho-motor disabilities, also Downs Syndrome, they do amazing work, he turned all his income from commenting TV into it.

But the first time I saw him, that I remember, was at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, when he played for the Washington Diplomats, maybe 80 or 81. Maybe he played at Van before, but I was too clued out. I remember exactly where I was sitting, low on the West side in the middle, and remember a single play: he was running through the right side of the midfield and someone fired a horizontal pass head-height, a bullet, and he bowed it down onto his foot without missing a stride and sprinted forward in total control. The whole stadium let out an "ohh!!". To that date it was the best technical detail I had ever seen live.

Describing what he means for Barça is hard, he pretty well takes the club into the modern world, not just in terms of trophies but mentality. Everyone here talks about him being signed in 74, winning the first league in 14 years, the 0-5 at the Bernabeu. But it was not until he was made coach in 88 that things really began to change. He pretty well invents the idea that the whole training session has to be with the ball (invents: probably Rinus Michels and other Dutch masters had these principles already). The famous and eternal "rondas", I forget what they are called in English, a circle and passing with a couple guys in the middle trying to rob the ball. People were shocked that the team did "no" physical work but was all technical and tactical. True, Cruyff's Barça was very poor on corners, attacking and defending, and indirect free kicks too--he simply did not care to work on them. You were supposed to already have two feet and use them, he refused to teach a player some new technique, you were just supposed to learn. The fact that Barça has spent the last 8 years waiting for Dani Alves to learn to cross properly has to do with respecting this principle, funny as it may sound. 

Probably the idea that best sums up Cruyff was when he said you have make the ball run, if the ball runs then you don't have to run as much. And since if you pass accurately the ball is way faster than a human, possession was based on quick passing and not the old idea of playing into space, of running onto the ball. This idea was perfect for the kids coming through the Masia, since the Catalans are not known for their physicality, but of course he complemented by signing strong players from the Basque country or beasts like Stoickhov or Koeman. 

So many Cruyff sayings are household expressions here. Once he said really exciting players give you "gallina de piel", which is like saying "bumpy gooses" instead of "goose bumps". When in Amsterdam a few years ago I said his Spanish was full of odd expressions and comedians loved to imitate it, and everyone said it was the same in Holland, that even his Dutch was odd and full of character. 

He was also the first to accurately describe the "entorno", what surrounds the club, the ambience, club administration, press, public, as factors affecting a team. Of course he was always trying to control it, but also said that in football the money "has to be on the field". He hated the idea that a club could spend all day worrying about fixing up a stadium, getting into debt and not having money to sign the best players.

At Barça in 1991 he had a heart attack and it came out he had smoked since a teen. He smoked on the bench, but so many did back then it was ridiculous. So he quit cold turkey, and spent years with these Spanish candy suckers named "Chupa-Chups" in his mouth, he was the best ad for the product ever. Heart attack from smoking at 40, dead from lung cancer at 68, RIP.

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