Dutch footballer, John Cruyff, died of cancer aged 68

The Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff has died after a “hard fought battle with cancer”.

The former Ajax and Barcelona star is considered one of the greatest players of all time, having led the the famed Netherlands team of the 1970s, exponents of ‘Total Football’, to the 1974 World Cup final.

He was also considered an exceptional manager. In charge of Ajax he won two KNVB Cups and ther Cup Winners’ Cup, although an Eredivisie title eluded him, while he won four Spanish titles and the European Cup in charge of Barcelona in the early 1990s.

Even after management he remained an influential figure at both clubs, while his coaching philosophy and attacking style of play influenced countless generations including Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola.

With Ajax, the team where he spent his youth, Cruyff won eight league titles in two spells – the first in 1966 and the last in 1983 – as well as a further five KNVB Cups.

He also captained the club to three successive European Cup wins between 1971 and 1973, a feat only bettered by the great Real Madrid team of the 1950s, who won five in a row between 1956 and 1960.

Cruyff also won three Ballon d’Ors in the early 1970s, and won a spanish title and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona.

At 32, Cruyff made a lucrative move to the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League, playing only one season with the club, before moving to the Washington Diplomats.

The Netherlands captain led the famed Dutch team of the 1970s to the World Cup final
The Netherlands captain led the famed Dutch team of the 1970s to the World Cup final

He returned to Ajax at 34, winning two more titles, then to rivals Feyernoord where he won a League and Cup double in his final playing season.

A short statement on his official website read: “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.”

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