From slum to king: Johan Cruyff’s incredible world career

The great Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff would have celebrated his 75th birthday today – but unfortunately the “king of football” died six years ago. His idea of ​​the game was unique, as was his life and proverb. A reminder of one of the greatest footballs ever seen!

“If I wanted you to understand it, I would have explained it better.” It was one of the incomparable, typical statements of Johan Cruyff. The two journalists Frits Barend and Henk van Dorp were never offended by this verdict – slightly condescending, a bit snotty and definitely straight from the stomach. On the contrary: they even used it as a chapter heading in their book because they knew it – there is no better way to sum up this very special person and great football star Johan Cruyff in a single sentence.

Most football fans still know today that Johannes Hendrikus Cruyff, born on April 25, 1947 in a slum in Amsterdam, was one of the most fascinating geniuses on the ball and later as a coach on the sidelines. But the fact that the man who early lost his father and was raised alone by his hard-working mother has always had his own mind and has never been easy in dealing with other people is often forgotten or hidden under his broad cloak. unique talent.

If you want to know how stubborn the player with the legendary number 14 could be, just look at pictures from the World Cup in Germany in 1974 – when Holland after an exciting trip through the tournament only failed in the final against the German. team.

With Weisweiler, nothing is as it was

When Cruyff was under contract with Puma at the time and loved the company, he, like his teammates, refused to wear an Adidas jersey. Shortly before the tournament, the situation threatened to escalate, so a compromise had to be found. And in fact, the famous company with the three stripes finally sewed a sweater with only two stripes especially for the exceptional Dutch artist. One might think the incident was trivial, but for Cruyff it was more. He was the man who pulled the strings. And then finally he got the will again.

Like just two years later in Spain. Johan Cruyff was then – after incredibly successful years at Ajax Amsterdam – already the big, celebrated star of FC Barcelona. The Catalans loved their Dutchman, and Cruyff loved his club. But then the successful German coach Hennes Weisweiler came to FC Barcelona – and nothing was as before. The two alpha animals fought against each other on and off the field for nine long months until February 8, 1976, when the two finally broke up.

Cruyff and Weisweiler – not a successful combination.

(Photo: imago / Horstmüller)

The FC Barcelona team lost 2-0 to FC Sevilla, and Weisweiler not only took his star off the field ahead of time in the 65th minute, but also explained at the press conference afterwards: “A man with a salary of 600,000 marks should offer the club more. Both goals were preceded by Cruyff errors. “

“Barça without Cruyff is impossible”

One can imagine how upset the Dutchman was after this public display and humiliation. Cruyff immediately turned to the press and said: “Weisweiler has no idea about football!” The German coach of FC Barcelona obviously could not see this verbal counter-attack from his Dutch star without comment – and therefore Weisweiler demanded a large fine and a training ban for Cruyff.

Ben Redelings is a passionate “chronicler of football madness” and a supporter of the glorious VfL Bochum. The bestselling author and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and maintains his legendary anecdotal treasure. For, he writes down the most exciting and funny stories on Monday and Saturday. More information about Ben Redelings, his current dates and his book with the best columns (“Between Puff and Barcelona”) is available on his website

But it was just a throughput for the Catalan star, who confidently declared that he would no longer train under this coach anyway, and that Weisweiler was finally done for him. FC Barcelona president Agusti Montal extended the Dutchman’s contract prematurely on the same day – and Weisweiler in turn asked for his agreement with the Catalans to be terminated.

Günter Netzer, who played for Real Madrid at the time, said many years later: “The Spaniards thought there would be many Weisweilers, but only one Cruyff.” How right Netzer was in that is expressed in the verdict of the former president of FC Barcelona, ​​Josep Bartomeu, who said of Cruyff’s death in 2016: “It is impossible to understand Barça without Cruyff.”

Simple but meaningful sentences

The philosophy of player and later coach Johan Cruyff can still be best summed up with the Dutch word “Totaalvoetbal”. And so the two journalists Frits Barend and Henk van Dorp once wrote: “The football player Cruyff knew no fear. The football player Cruyff did not understand that the teams were ready to defend.”

The Dutchman has said many unforgettable sentences in his life that reflect this attitude: “In my teams, the goalkeeper is the first striker and the striker is the first defender.” Or: “If we have the ball, the opponent can not hit it.” And also this one: “If you want to play faster, you can run faster. But in fact, the ball always determines the speed of the game.”

Johan Cruyff always achieved his countless successes as a player and coach, making him the “king of football”, based on these simple but often also deep phrases: “The basis is to get the ball under control as quickly as possible. The more time you have to see. ”

Speaking from the moon

And sometimes things came into his head that at first glance seemed completely banal and actually strange. Before a qualifier against Finland, for example, he and his Bond coach Marco van Basten decided to allow only very small and agile players on the pitch. The reasoning gave the two: At that time, the Finns had only particularly tall men in their team. And in fact, Cruyff and van Basten’s plan worked that day.

Six years ago, the man who once said – “If football did not exist, I would invent it” – died too young. Johan Cruyff would have been 75 years old today. It may be worth looking up at the stars that night. Because the great Dutch football legend once said: “I want to continue my speeches. Even though I’m dead. Then I’ll just give them from the moon.”

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