Johan Cruyff, who died recently, was a football legend of which country?
At the age of 68, one of football's greatest players passed gone. Johan Cruyff, the father of the Dutch Total Football Philosophy, led his country to the 1974 World Cup final and forever put the Netherlands on the globe of football. We delve into his renowned performances at that tournament, as well as the numbers that made them so memorable.
Cruyff made his league debut for Ajax in November 1964, two months before the 1974 World Cup. It was the day he started the tradition of great young Ajax players scoring in their club debut. He was 17 years and 204 days old at the time. He was a talented young player, but he had a long way to go before he became the legend he would become.
Cruyff won the Eredivisie nine times (tied with Danish PSV legend Jan Heintze) during his 12 seasons in the league. Between 1965 and 1973, he won it six times in eight Eredivisie seasons, the latter three of which were accompanied by European Cup victories. In the summer of 1973, the Dutchman moved to Barcelona and joined former Ajax coach Rinus Michels.
Only three of the eight seasons between 1974 and 1981 saw the Amsterdam giants win the title without Cruyff. With his return in late 1981, Ajax won back-to-back Eredivisie titles in 1981-82 and 1982-83. Cruyff, however, left Ajax for Feyenoord after a disagreement with the board of directors. It was an almost unthinkable move for Ajax's best player of all time, but it was one that led to the Rotterdam side's first Eredivisie title in a decade.
Cruyff was a winner almost every time he touched a ball. He was victorious in 80 percent of his Eredivisie matches (245/308). Unsurprisingly, five years after his demise, his victory % among players with 100 or more appearances remains the greatest in Dutch top-flight history. That record may fade away, but Cruyff's legacy as a modern-day football pioneer will endure.