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In Search of Johan

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Johan Cruyff
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In Search of Johan

Hyde Park, London appears the natural place to begin.

In June 1971, Johan and his merry-men held an impromptu get-together in the shadow of the Serpentine.

Two-nights-hence, their unique brand of ‘total football’ was unveiled to a packed-house at Wembley Stadium, during the European Cup Final.

Greek Champions Panathinaikos proved ill-equipped for Ajax’ Red & White brand – succumbing to a 2 – 0 defeat.

The Dutch outfit would successfully defend the prized trophy in seasons 1971/72 (Inter Milan), and 1972/73 (Juventus), and to-date remain one of a triumvirate – Real Madrid & Bayern Munich, to boast such a feat.

Johan Cruyff (25/04/1947), was so-much more than your average footballer. He was a balletic trailblazer intent on dispelling the deep-rooted myth surrounding positional rigidity. First and foremost Cruyff embraced change.

His playing career spanned two decades (1964-1984), in-which honours were accrued with unflinching regularity, at both domestic and international level.

Cruyff received the prestigious Ballon d’Or on three occasions – 1971, 1973 & 1974; and his exploits throughout the 1974 Munich World Cup, are the stuff of legend.

The shape-shifting ‘Cruyff-turn’- apart, he orchestrated his teams advance to the showpiece final (losing narrowly to West Germany).

Outwitting opponents from the first-whistle, Cruyff won a first-minute penalty – which teammate Neeskens converted with aplomb. Indeed, upon retrieving the ball from the goal-net, Sepp Maier became the first West German Player to touch the ball.

Cruyff’s transition into management proved seamless. Primarily with his-beloved Ajax – where Cup Winners Cup success (1986/87), was achieved, and latterly at the Nou Camp, where Barcelona’s ‘Dream-Team’ emerged.

Cruyff was instrumental in developing their world-renowned ‘La Masia’ youth academy, propagating a conveyor-belt of talent commensurate with his fluid footballing ideology – (the footprint of-which is evident in the contemporary game through the likes of high-profile protege Pep Guardiola).

Johan Cruyff operated within a set of basic guidelines; incorporating social interaction through sport. Respect, responsibility and creativity were encompassed within an umbrella of teamwork.

On a recent visit to Hyde Park, the great-man’s memory lives-on through that iconic No. 14 shirt.

 

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Born in 1963, Peter attended St Mary's Leith High School. Peter worked within the plumbing industry before studying a degree in journalism within the University of Stirling. Peter has been a lifelong sports fan and has volunteered within the Edinburgh Soccer School's programme on numerous occasions.

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