Johan Cruijff and his Revolution

Johan Cruijff’s childhood

Johan Cruyff was born in Amsterdam on April 25, 1947, in a working-class neighborhood of Betondorp, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Dutch. His father Manus sells fruit and vegetables, while his mother Nell is a laundress. The small Johan grows up playing football on the street, with his brother Heini, who is two years older, and with other children from the neighborhood: at the age of five he manages to do 150 dribbles in a row without ever letting the ball fall: his being a phenomenon was evident from an early age age.

Kick a ball on the dirt paths of the hinterland of the Venice of the North it is a fundamental step. Many years later, when with his Foundation he dedicated himself to teaching football to kids, Johan remembers it: “Playing on the asphalt of the street and the concrete of the courtyards is important because it helps to refine the technique in front of the fast and irregular rebounds of the ball. It forces you to quickly choose what to do and quickly jump over obstacles, because if you fall, you peel, the blood comes out and you get hurt ”.

A little more than 200 meters from his house is the “De Meer“, Historic stadium ofAjax, which could hold 22 fans, as of April 25, 2017 “Johan Cruijff Arena”, with a capacity of 55 thousand seats, Johan goes every day to see the training of the Godenzonen (Sons of the Gods), observes, learns, becomes curious and soon becomes the mascot of the club warehouse keeper whom he affectionately begins to call “Uncle Henk”And soon ends up acting as his assistant. At the age of 13, his father died of a heart attack. The life of the family Cruyff it gets complicated suddenly, but the company red and white he does not hold back, offering his mother some jobs to do for the club, including that of a bartender at the stadium and of cleaning the footballers’ shirts and above all welcoming both him and his brother Heini to the youth academies.

The first years in Ajax

Johan he is thin, fast, slippery, resourceful and also has a very strong character. Right from the start he was noticed by the first team manager, Vic Buckingham, who sends him to the gym to train with weights and make him run uphill to make him grow at a muscular level. Buckingham è English, precisely native of Greenwich, the main district of the royal village Londoner, known for having given his name to the meridian and the homonymous time zone, he served in the Tottenham, as a midfielder, between 1935 and 1949, making 204 appearances and only one goal. Thanks to his technician at the time, the Londoner Arthur Rowe, learn innovative football. In 1959, Vic becomes the main team’s coach Amsterdam, where he begins to develop the project of his old technician. The football that he wants to propose and that he will be able to see the light, has fast movements and is not limited to pre-established roles on the pitch. We can safely say that the seed from which the “Total calcium“, Which is still associated withAjax and to Johan’s face Cruyff, he planted it and then grew his own Vic Buckingham.


On November 15, 1964, at the age of 17, Johan makes his debut in the first team: despite his young age he is one of the few Dutch with a professional contract. The official baptism is not the best, the guests lose to Groningen for 3-1. Not bad because on his second appearance as owner theAjax beats the archrival of PSV Eindhoven for 5-0. The championship of red and white does not meet the expectations of the property, so in January, he is exonerated Buckingham: in his place the graduate in physical education and former striker of theAjax (122 goals in 246 games), the 37-year-old orange, Rinus Michels.

The meeting that changes his life

Michels it will be the man who will change or rather revolutionize the destiny of the world forever Prophet of the goal and the whole world of football. With the arrival of the “General”, The workouts are getting harder and the sessions are doubling compared to before. The results in the field arrive, even if not very quickly. His football needs time and young athletes with good lungs and feet, capable of continuously swapping roles. In five seasons, theAjax wins 4 championships (’66, ’67, ’68 and ’70). In 1969 he reached the final of Champions Cup, but is defeated by “The Great Milan“By Nero Rocco, to the “Santiago Bernabeu”In Madrid in front of more than 31 thousand spectators, 4-1 with Pierino’s hat-trick meadows and Angelo’s goal Sormani. For Dutch the rigor of Velibor Vasovic. In that match Johan plays center point.

To see theDutch steering wheel the first Champions Cup, there is no need to wait too long. On June 2, 1971, in a “Wembley “ packed with 83 thousand spectators, i Jews (Jews), they impose themselves on Greek of Panathinaikos, trained by Ferenc Rifleman, 2-0, with Johan Crujiff used by the right midfielder: the nets for orange I’m Dick’s van Dijk and Arie Haan. The following year is final again: this time in front of theInter Giovanni’s Winterize. On May 31, 1972, at the “Feijenoord Stadion”In Rotterdam with more than 61 thousand spectators, i Godenzonen win 2-0 with a brace from Cruyff, who plays as first striker. The first goal comes from a defensive blunder between Ivano Bordon and Gabriel Orials: leave the number 14 Dutch free to kick into an empty goal, while the second is a corner kick action, on which Johan jump higher than anyone by bagging on the net.

On May 30, 1973, the third consecutive European Cup for theAjax. At the stadium “Rajko Mitic“of Belgrade, full in every order of places, almost 90 thousand, the Dutch face the Juventus trained since Czechoslovakian Čestmír Vycpálek. In the team black and white Dino Zoff, Giuseppe Furino, Joseph Altafini, Franco Cause, Peter Anastasis, Fabio Capello and Roberto Bettega. The 11th of Amsterdam, orphan of Rinus Michels, passed to Barcelona and replaced by the Rumanian STEFAN Kovács, is imposed 1-0 thanks to the goal of the attacker Johnny Rope. It was from the days of Real Madrid with di Stefano that a team did not win three

Cups of Champions consecutive. The first “Grand Slam” in the history of football belongs to the gods red and white which in 1973 conquer Championship, National Cup, Champions Cup e Intercontinental Cup.

The adventure in Barcelona

In the 1973/74 season, Cruyff decides to join his former coach Rinus Michels al Barcelona, paid one billion lire. THE Barca they are penultimate in the standings with 3 defeats in 7 games. Not a simple moment, but the number 1 in the world, in that historical moment, at which i Lloyd’s di London they have insured the legs for two and a half billion lire, he is not afraid, he undresses his number 14 to wear the azulgrana number 9: in his debut in Liga, on October 28, 1973, against Granada scores a brace. The year ends with the championship victory for Catalans, after fourteen years from the last and a booty for Johan of 16 goals in 26 appearances. With the Barcelona, the flying Dutchman also wins a Ballon d’Or, after the two won with theAjax, And a Spanish Cup. In 173 games he scored 59 goals and 5 assists.


But the highest point of his footballing career reaches him at the 1974 World Cup in Germany. The Clockwork Orangeled by the “usual” Rinus Michels who left the Barça, it is a sublime sight. The orange dominate in everything, pressing, speed, personality and patterns. The final against the West Germany by Franz Beckenbauer, at “Olympic Stadium”In Munich, in front of 75 paying people, he got off to a good start. For a whole minute and with a dense network of passages, a real cobweb, as many as 15 never banal touches, precede an acceleration of the 14 in orange who gets the 1-0 penalty kick, transformed by Johan Neeskens. Although the start of the race suggests a health walk, the hosts Teutonic, they graduate World champions winning 2-1, with Paul’s goals Breitner, also from 11 meters and Gerd Müller, but the real winner is Johan Cruyff and the “Total calcium“.

In the World Cup Argentina 1978, in which theHolland reached the final, defeated in extra time by the hosts 3-1 (brace by Flat and network of Bertoni is preferably used for Albiceleste, by Dick Nanninga the guest network), Johan Cruyff was not summoned. Over the years there have been many voices on the subject: those who spoke personal conflicts with the Football Federation Dutch, who had problems with the sponsors of the national team, who said they were sure that it was a political gesture, against the far-right military junta that governed theArgentina. It even went so far as to give responsibility to the wife of the champion Orange.

The truth is the same after almost thirty years Cruyff to make it public during an interview with Catalonia Radio: “You may not know that I had problems towards the end of my career here.Someone pointed a rifle to my head, tied my wife and me, in front of our three children, in our home in Barcelona“.

The attempted kidnapping failed, because Johan managed to free himself, but their life changed radically: “My children went to school accompanied by the police. I used to go to games with the bodyguards. These things change your point of view on many things. There are times when other values ​​take over. We wanted to put an end to that situation, to lead a different life. I thought it was time to leave football and for this reason I decided not to play in the World Cup Argentina“.

In reality he did not abandon the green rectangle, but totally changed football, moving in 1978 to the USA to wear the jerseys of THE Aztecs e Washington Diplomats. Back to Spain, al Get the Funds!, for 3 months, from March to June 1981, before returning in the same year toAjax, where he won another 3 championships, ending his professional career at Feyenoord, winning one Dutch Cup, scoring 11 goals in 33 appearances.

In his career he has collected 712 games, in all competitions, scoring 403 goals and 167 assists.


– 9 Eredivisie (8 with theAjax, a col Feyenoord)

– 6 Dutch Cups (5 with theAjax, a col Feyenoord)

– 1 Liga (Barcelona)

– 1 Spanish Cup (Barcelona)

– 3 Champions Cups (Ajax)

– 1 Uefa Cup (Ajax)

– 1 Intercontinental Cup (Ajax)


– 3 Golden Balls (Ajax e Barcelona)

– Dutch Footballer of the Year (Ajax)

– 2 times Eredivisie top scorer (Ajax)

– MVP of the NASL championship (Diplomats)

The career as a coach On May 5, 1988, Johan Cruyff becomes the coach of the Barcelona. THE’Dutch is called to refound i Barca. In that summer he puts in place a real revolution, only 9 players from the previous season remain in the squad, spending more than 2 million pesatas for the purchase of 12 new players: among the best known Miquel Soler, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Begiristain and Ernesto Valverde. In 8 years, the master Dutch revolutionized the club, building the foundation of the Barça that over the years we have then got to know.


In his autobiographical book “My Revolution”, Cruyff tells of his first moments as a coach azulgrana: “From day one to Barcelona I overturned the game mentality. Upon my arrival I found a style in which defenders had to run less than the attackers. I told the center forward that he was the first defender, I let the goalkeeper understand that he was the first attacker and I explained to the defenders that they were the ones who determined the length of the field, starting from the principle that the distance between the lines must be between the 10 and 15 meters. Furthermore, everyone had to bear in mind that in the ball possession phase it was necessary to widen the spaces, while for non-possession it was necessary to tighten them. To do this, you need to keep an eye on each other, so that when one jumps forward the other takes his position. A process to work on every single day. And as soon as it seemed to me that the boys were getting bored, I invented another exercise that allowed us to laugh during training. I wanted to exploit the spaces, calculate the meters “.

With the Barcelona, thanks also to the various Peps Guardiola, Guillermo Care, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoičkov, Ballon d’Or 1994, wins 4 Liga consecutive, between 1990 and 1994, one Spanish Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup it’s the first one Champions Cup of the Barca: May 20, 1992, with 70 thousand spectators in the stands of “Wembley“, against the Sampdoria trained by Vujadin Boškov, by Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini. The game is released only 8 minutes before the end of extra time: at 112 ‘minute Rambo Koeman, with a punishment from the edge, he beats Gianluca Pagliuca, making it go down in history Cruyff and his boys.

The 18 May 1994, Johan is back in the final, this time facing the Milan by Fabio Capello that as a player he had already faced and beaten in the distant 1973, in the final of Champions Cup. This time, surprisingly, the verdict is completely reversed. THE Rossoneri, in front of 70 thousand spectators, they won 4-0 in the Olympic Stadium “Spyros Louis”In Athens, with a double from Daniele Massaro and Dejan’s networks Savicevic, another football genius, and Marcel Desailly. Who knows if at the end of the game the Dutch genius will have reminded his boys of one of the many quotes from him: “If you can’t win, make sure you don’t lose.”


– 2 Dutch Cups (Ajax)

– 1 Spanish Cup (Barcelona)

– 4 Liga (Barcelona)

– 3 Spanish Super Cup (Barcelona)

– 1 European Cup (Barcelona)

– 2 Cup Winners’ Cups (Ajax, Barcelona)

– 1 European Super Cup (Barcelona)

The epilogue of a fantastic career

Johan’s career Cruyff she was fantastic, with incredible numbers, both as a player and as a coach, a real revolutionary of football who will remain forever in the history of this sport. The lawyer, writer and TV presenter, Federico Buffa, precisely about this, he says: “Johan Cruyff he made the revolution twice, with his feet and with his head “. His footballing vision unearthed a game that most likely kicked off football for Pep Guadiola, Arsène Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and so on.

Unfortunately after a long illness, most likely due to one of his two vices: “In my life I have had only two vices: one, football, gave me everything, the other, the smoke, was about to take it away”, often told, the Prophet of the goal he left us on March 24, 2016, really too early, because of his way of being brilliant, ironic, creative, unpredictable, unconventional and his famous phrases, provocative, thoughtful, sometimes harsh, we would not have tired easily, but in reality Johan reminds us by saying: “In a way, I’m probably IMMORTAL”.

Di Francesco Niglio

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