Dutch icon Johan Cruyff has died at the age of 68, it has been announced.
The former Dutch international, an icon at both Barcelona and Ajax, has passed away following a battle with cancer.
A statement on his official website confirmed his passing.
“On March 24, 2016, Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer.”
“It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
Cruyff was told of his illness in October.
In February the three-time Ballon d’Or winner declared himself positive of winning his battle with the disease, saying: “Right now, I have the feeling that I am 2-0 up in the first half of a match that has not finished yet.”
As a manager, Cruyff led Barcelona to four successive La Liga titles (1991-94) while also winning the 1992 European Cup at Wembley with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria. His philosophy continues to run through both the Catalan and Amsterdam clubs to this day, their successes seen in many quarters as his legacy.
But it was as a player where Cruyff was perhaps most revered.
He made his debut for Ajax as a 17-year-old spending nine years with the club, winning six Eredivisie titles and three successive European Cups before joining Barcelona in 1973.
The following year he proved the star turn at the 1974 World Cup, at the height of his playing career, leading the Oranje to the final in West Germany.
In the final he won Holland an early penalty, converted by Johan Neeskens, but the Dutch fell short, losing 2-1 to the hosts.
He won player of the tournament after shining throughout. In all, he won 48 caps for his country, scoring 33 goals.
A prolific goalscorer, and a great creator for others, Cruyff even had his own trick, famous to this day. The ‘Cruyff turn’ was perfected by its inventor, who finished his playing career in Holland with a second spell at Ajax before spending his final campaign at the Amsterdam club’s most bitter rivals, Feyenoord – whom he led to their first title for a decade.
Cruyff underwent double heart bypass surgery in 1991 and, having been a smoker, immediately gave up after the operation. He took to sucking lollipops when in the dugout.
News Courtesy – http://www.mirror.co.uk/