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internationally spelled Cruyff; 25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was an exponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dutch football rose from obscurity to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. At the 1974 finals, he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him, the “Cruyff Turn“, a move widely replicated in the modern game. Wearing the number 14 jersey, he set a trend for wearing shirt numbers outside the usual starting line-up numbers of one to eleven.
At club level, Cruyff started his career at Ajax, where he won eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup. In 1973, he moved to Barcelona for a world record transfer fee, winning La Liga in his first season and was named European Footballer of the Year. After retiring from playing in 1984, Cruyff became highly successful as manager of Ajax and later Barcelona; he remained an influential advisor to both clubs. His son Jordi also played football professionally.
In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll. He came third in a vote organised by the French magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d’Or winners to elect their Football Player of the Century. He was chosen on the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.
Considered to be one of the most influential figures in football history, Cruyff’s style of play and his football philosophy has influenced managers and players, including the likes of Arrigo Sacchi, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Frank Rijkaard, Michael Laudrup, Eric Cantona, Peter Bosz, Óscar García Junyent and Xavi. Ajax and Barcelona are among the clubs that have developed youth academies based on Cruyff’s coaching methods. His coaching philosophy helped lay the foundations for the revival of Ajax’s international successes in the 1990s. Spanish football‘s successes at both club and international level during the years 2008 to 2012 have been cited by many as evidence of Cruyff’s impact on contemporary football. France Football ranked him at No. 4 on their list of the Top 50 football managers of all time