He’s more famous than Vincent van Gogh. His eccentric use of language is as legendary as his football skills. Johan Cruijff, the best Dutch footballer ever, is 60 today.
The Dutch media is full stories about the Amsterdammer, who changed the face of football in the Netherlands and Spain, his second home.
In terms of genius, there is no doubt that Cruijff matches Van Gogh. And as a player he was just as difficult and volatile a character. Cruijff is not particularly Dutch at all. As a player he was a big head. He disdained consensus, always spoke his mind and he was always right.
Once, team-mates invented a Dutch word and Cruijff immediately claimed to know what it meant. The next day he said he had checked it in the dictionary and what he had said was correct.
He was not afraid to break taboos and was ruthless in getting the best deal possible for himself. On the field he was consumed by his passion for the game, bossing everybody around and lighting up play with electrifying skill.
He was equally impressive as manager of Barcelona. What he didn’t do is win the World Cup when he should have in 1974. And it’s a tragedy that he never managed the Dutch national team.
Will he have any regrets? No way. Unlike Van Gogh’s work, Cruijff’s art was a game.
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