Johan Cruyff is a legendary footballer known around the world for his aggressive and intelligent style of play. Although he was successful in his early years, it was when he joined FC Barcelona in 1973 that his star really started to shine.
Cruyff started his career in his home country, the Netherlands, playing for AFC Ajax. There he led the team to many memorable victories and performances, but was ultimately sold to FC Barcelona for a considerable sum. Cruyff wasted no time convincing Barcelona supporters, telling the press he chose Barcelona over rivals Real Madrid because he didn’t want to play for a team associated with the former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. He even named his son Jordi, a traditional Catalan name (the region of Spain in which Barcelona is located).
Cruyff’s years of playing for FC Barcelona were truly memorable and made him an icon. In his first year with the team he helped them win La Liga for the first time in fourteen years (beating Real Madrid on their own ground along the way) and was also named European Footballer of the Year. . It was around this time that he also scored one of his most memorable goals, called “The Phantom Goal” or “Cruyff’s Impossible Goal” (Cruyff’s Impossible Goal). In a game against Atlético Madrid, the ball had already passed the far goal post and was about neck height when Cruyff jumped in the air, twisting so as to face the goal and threw the ball into the goal with his right heel. . This decision, among others, propelled him to divine status in the eyes of football fans.
Cruyff then spent many years away from FC Barcelona as a player and coach, until his return to the club as manager in 1988. When he returned to Barcelona, Cruyff brought with him the so-called “Dream Team “. This elite team consisted of Spaniards Jon Andoni Goikoetxea, Jose Mari Bakero, Josep Guardiola, Txiki Beguiristain, as well as international stars Romanian Gheorghe Hagi, Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov, Danish Michael Laudrup, Brazilian Romario and Dutch Ronald Koeman.
Under Cruyff’s leadership, the Dream Team won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994. They won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1989 and the European Cup in 1992 at Wembley Stadium with a famous goal from free kick thanks to Ronald Koeman. In 1990, the Dream Team won one Copa del Rey, the European Super Cup in 1992 and three Supercopa de Espana.
Cruyff remains FC Barcelona’s most successful coach to date, with eleven trophies to his name. He also has the distinction of being the oldest manager of the club. He continues to be an advisor to FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, whom he openly supported during the elections. To this day, he is still revered by FC Barcelona fans, who call him “El Salvador” (The Savior) for his success as a player and coach of the club.