Johan Cruyff biography

Thu 11 March 2021 | 10:30

Regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific players in football history, Johan Cruyff was a Dutch professional football player and coach. In this article of Sportmob, we take a look at his biography.

The three-time Ballon d'Or winner Hendrik Johannes Cruijff is regarded as one of the most influential figures in football history. Cruyff played in different leagues and clubs, but he spent more time in


than any other club he played at. He was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by, won various individual honors, and is considered as one of the greatest footballers in history.

He started playing football with the Ajax youth team when he was 10. His first-team debut for Ajax came on 15 November 1964 in an Eredivisie match against GVAV, where he scored the only goal for Ajax. He went on to play 8 more years in his first stint with the Sons of the Gods, winning eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups, and one Intercontinental Cup, and made himself one of the Best Ajax Players of all Time.

He then left Ajax and joined Barcelona for a world-record transfer fee, went to the USA for a few seasons, went again to Laliga and joined Levante, and returned to Ajax in 1981. His 3-year second stint was not as legendary as his first and things went bad between Ajax and Cruyff when Ajax refused to offer Cruyff a new contract and he joined the clubs' rivals Feyenoord and retired there. But he returned to Ajax as a manager and won two KNVB Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup1986–87 with them.

His philosophy in playing and managing influence many generations and several teams have used his methods. Cruyff became synonymous with the playing style of "Total Football," a system that players had to understand the whole geometry of the whole pitch and have the ability to play anywhere. He passed away on 24 March 2016 and in 2017, the Amsterdam Arena was renamed to Johan Cruyff Arena.

let's move forward to have an in-depth look at Johan Cruyff's life. In the following article, you are going to read more detailed information about Johan

Cruyff bio

including Johan

Cruyff life story


Johan Cruyff childhood

as well as his personal and professional life.

All You Need to Know About Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff was born on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This professional footballer who is extremely popular in the football world, started his professional career in 1964 after 8 years of playing as his youth career. He joined Netherland National team in 1966 where he scored 33 goals in his 48 appearances.

After retirement from international football in 1977, Cruyff entered the managing world. From 1985 till 2013 he managed 3 great teams Ajax, Barcelona, and Catalonia.In this article, we have provided you with a detailed biography of this footballer. Stay tuned to know more about Johan

Cruyff biography


Johan Cruyff information

In the following part of Johan Cruyff biography, you can find some general information about him listed down here.

Johan Cruyff Bio

  • Full Name

    : Hendrik Johannes Cruijff

  • Nickname

    : "Jopie", "Nummer 14", "Het orakel van Betondorp" (the prophet of Betondorp), "El Salvador" (The Saviour), and "El Flaco" (The Skinny One)

  • Profession

    : professional football player and coach

Johan Cruyff Physical Stats

  • Weight

    : 76Kilograms

  • Height

    : 1.78 m

  • Eye Color

    : Blue

  • Hair Colo

    r: Brown

  • Johan Cruyff Football Information

  • Position

    : Forward, Attacking midfielder

  • Jersey Number

    : 14

  • Professional Debut


Johan Cruyff Date of Birth and Personal Info

  • Date of Birth

    : 25 April 1947

  • Birth Place:

    Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Date of death

    : 24 March 2016 (aged 68)

  • Place of death:

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Zodiac Sign


  • Johan Cruyff Nationality

    : Dutch

  • Johan Cruyff Religion

    : described himself as "not religious"

Johan Cruyff Early Life

In this section of Johan Cruyff biography, we will have a glance at his early life.

Johan Cruyff with the original name Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff was born on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam to Hermanus Cornelis Cruijff, his father and Petronella Bernarda Draaijer, his mother. He had an older brother, Henny. Their house was near Ajax stadium. His father was a football lover who influenced little Johan Cruyff to start playing football from a very young age and whenever he could he played football with his schoolmates and older brother.

When he was 12 he lost his father due to a heart attack. His father's death affected his mentality a lot. His mother began working at Ajax as a cleaner and soon she met her second husband, Henk Angel, a field hand at Ajax who had a key influence in Cruyff's life.

Johan Cruyff Profile

In this division of Johan

Cruyff biography

, we will review his professional career from his early days.

Johan Cruyff joined Ajax youth system in 1957 while he was just 10 years old where he stayed for the next 8 years. In 1964 he started his senior career by joining Ajax. He made his first team debut on 15 November 1964 in the Eredivisie. in the 1965–66 season, Cruyff started to establish himself as a regular first team player. Totally he scored 25 goals in 23 games, and Ajax won the league championship. This victory was repeated in the 1966–67 and 1967–68 seasons as well. Cruyff was named Dutch footballer of the year for the second time.

Three years later, at the end of the season, he was named the Dutch and European Footballer of the Year for 1971. In total Johan Cruyff had 240 appearances in Ajax in which he scored 190 goals.In 1973, Cruyff was sold to


for about $2 million which was a world record transfer fee.

In that time Cruyff endeared himself to the Barcelona fans by choosing a Catalan name, Jordi, for his son. He had a very brilliant time in Barcelona. He helped Barca to defeat Real Madrid 5–0 and win La Liga for the first time since 1960. It was such a great victory that all Barcelona fans who watched the match on television poured out of their homes to join in street celebrations.

Cruyff had a brief retirement in 1978 but shortly after, he decided to go to the United States with his family and resume his playing career there. For four years he played for

Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, and Levante. Totally he had 63 appearances with these teams and scored 27 goals. In 1981 Cruyff joined Ajax again, the team which became league champions along with Cruyff In the 1981–82 and 1982–83 seasons. He totally scored 14 goals in 34 appearances in Ajax. Then he joined Feyenoord for the 1983- 1984 season which was a successful one for him.

At the international level, Johan Cruyff first appearance for


National team came in 1966. It might be interesting for you to know that the national team never lost a match in which Cruyff scored. Cruyff played 48 matches, scoring 33 goals for Netherlands National team. Johan Cruyff retired from international football in October 1977 and after retiring from playing, he continued his profession as a coach. He worked as a manager for more than two decades working with Ajax, Barcelona, and Catalonia. As well as representing Catalonia on the pitch in 1976, Cruyff also managed the Catalonia national team from 2009 to 2013, leading the team to a victory over Argentina in his debut match.

Johan Cruyff Style of Play

Johan Cruyff was a brilliant creative playmaker with a gift for timing passes. He played a role as architect in the team. He had a special style called "Total Football". It refers to a system in which a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, letting the team maintain their intended organizational structure.

Johan Cruyff was mainly acknowledged for his tactical brain, speed, technical ability, dribbling, and vision, as well as possessing an awareness of his teammates' positions as an attack unfolded.

esthetic and moral aspects of a game were important to Cruyff. He always believed in simplicity and his viewpoint simplicity and beauty were not separable. For Cruyff, football was much an artistic-oriented mind-body game instead of an athletic-oriented physical competition. He said: “Every trainer talks about movement, about running a lot. I say don't run so much. Football is a game you play with your brain. You have to be in the right place at the right moment, not too early, not too late."

Johan Cruyff had very famous basic rules related to football including 14 rules which are known as Cruyff's 14 rules and are displayed at every Cruyff Court in the world. he listed his 14 basic rules as follow:

1. Team player – 'To accomplish things, you have to do them together.';

2. Responsibility – 'Take care of things as if they were your own.';

3. Respect – 'Respect one another.';

4. Integration – 'Involve others in your activities.';

5. Initiative – 'Dare to try something new.';

6. Coaching – 'Always help each other within a team.';

7. Personality – 'Be yourself.';

8. Social involvement – 'Interaction is crucial, both in sport and in life.';

9. Technique – 'Know the basics.';

10. Tactics – 'Know what to do.';

11. Development – 'Sport strengthens body and soul.';

12. Learning – 'Try to learn something new every day.';

13. Play together – 'An essential part of any game.';

14. Creativity – 'Bring beauty to the sport


Johan Cruyff is undoubtedly an iconic and revolutionary figure in the history of football. He played a very significant role both as a player and as a coach. Without Cruyff, the success of many of the most important teams, as well as many memorable champions of the world, would have been unthinkable.

According to Barcelona's ex-president Joan Laporta, "As a player, he turned football into an art form. Johan came along and revolutionized everything. The modern-day Barça started with him, he is the expression of our identity, he brought us a style of football we love." Cruyff believed in a certain style of play and in the fact that there is more to football than winning.The author of Cruyff's French biography, Chérif Ghemmour, called him 'the greatest actor in the history of football'.

As a player, Cruyff helped Dutch football to change greatly at both club and international levels to become a world-class powerhouse. He is widely mentioned in the same breath as Pelé and Maradona. Over the past years, several footballing starlets including Adnan Januzaj, Kaká, Luka Modrić, Shinji Kagawa, and Adnan Januzaj were dubbed the 'new Johan Cruyff'.

As a manager, Cruyff is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential managers in the history of football. According to the former Dutch international Johan Neeskens, "If you look at the greatest players in history, most of them couldn't coach. If you look at the greatest coaches in history, most of them were not great players. Johan Cruyff did both – and in such an exhilarating style."In July 2011, the website Football Pantheon included him on its list of the top 50 greatest managers of all time.

Johan Cruyff worked as Barcelona's manager for nearly a decade and he helped create one of the greatest dynasties in the history of Barca and continental football. Xavi once told about Cruyff that, "Cruyff established a very clear philosophy at Barcelona, he gave birth to that philosophy, he created Barça's DNA."

Johan Cruyff has not only been a great player and a great manager but he has also been a brilliant thinker who founded and represented a distinctive school of thought in football and a style of playing that is also predominant today. His footballing principles have significantly influenced the football career of many players and managers. Guardiola who was the manager of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, stated: "Throughout my career, I've simply tried to instill what I learned from Johan Cruyff. He has had the biggest influence on football out of anyone in the world, first as a player and then as a coach. He taught me a lot and you can see that in the fact that so many of his former players are now coaches".

Goal celebration

the legendary dutch footballer didn't have any special goal celebration.

Let's move forward and read about other aspects of 



Johan Cruyff outside football

It might be interesting for you to know that Outside football, Johan Cruyff's favorite sport and hobby was golf. He also loved cars and collecting them. In Sandro Ciotti's documentary film Il Profeta del gol (1976), Cruyff said, "I like to drive for the 20 km that separate the training camp from my house, it relaxes me. I love the cars."

in 1978, Cruyff had a brief retirement from football. He started some investments but he wasn't successful. He lost most of his money in those series of poor investments, including a pig farm. then he and his family came to the United States and he became a footballer again." Cruyff insisted that his decision to resume his playing career in the United States was pivotal in his career. He stated that "Starting from zero in America, many miles away from my past, was one of the best decisions I made. There I learned how to develop my uncontrolled ambitions, to think as a coach and about sponsorship."

In 1979, while he was reaching the twilight of his career in Barcelona, he was interested in creating a range of footwear to challenge the technical and luxury qualities of those on the market. It was an unusual new idea because no professional sportsman had ever done such a thing before. Finally, Cruyff combined with his close friend, Italian designer Emilio Lazzarini by using whose knowledge they set out to create a technical shoe that balance functionality with elegance. At first, the range was filled with "luxury" indoor football shoes, but they quickly became used as a fashion shoes due to their attractive appearance. And so Cruyff Classics brand was born.

Cruyff was also a writer. He was multilingual and he was the author/co-author of several books (in Dutch and Spanish) about his football career, in particular his principles and view about the football world. He also wrote weekly columns for El Periódico (Barcelona-based newspaper) and De Telegraaf (Amsterdam-based newspaper).

British football writer Brian Glanville wrote about Cruyff: "his intelligence off the field as well as on it was quite remarkable. How well I remember seeing Cruyff surrounded by journalists from all over the world in 1978 to whose questions he replied almost casually in a multiplicity of languages. Not only Dutch but English, French, Spanish and German."

Johan Cruyff personal life

was born on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam. He was the second son of the family. His father loved football a lot and he encouraged little john to play football with his friends from an early age.He lost his father when he was 12 and this had a great influence on his future career and life. He had a strong character both in and beyond the footballing world.

In 1957 Johan Cruyff joined Ajax as his youth career when he was just 10 years old and stayed there till 1964. He started his professional debut in 1964 again with Ajax. He played for Ajax till 1973 and scored 190 goals in 240 appearances. For the next 10 years, he played for Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante, Ajax, and Feyenoord.Johan Cruyff joined Netherland National team in 1966 and till 1977, he totally scored 33 goals in 48 appearances.

Johan Cruyff family, children, and relationships

Johan Cruyff married Diana Margaretha "Danny" Coster in 1968. They first met at the wedding of Ajax teammate Piet Keizer, one year earlier, they fell in love and started dating. Danny was born in 1949 and her father was a Dutch businessman who was also Cruyff's agent. It is said that the marriage had been happy for almost 50 years. Cruyff was a family man, one of the few professional players who married young and kept his marriage alive over all these years. He also managed to keep himself, his wife, and children away from the wrong kind of tabloid headlines.The couple had three children together. Chantal (born in November 1970), Susila (born in January 1972), and Jordi ( born in February 1974).


Like most popular footballers, Johan Cruyff also had some contributions to charity foundations.In 1999, Cruyff founded the Johan Cruyff Institute with a program for 35 athletes as part of the Johan Cruyff University of Amsterdam and it has become a global network until now.

The Johan Cruyff Foundation has provided over 200 Cruyff Courts in 22 countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Israel, United States, and Mexico, for children of all backgrounds to play street football together. UEFA praised the foundation for its positive effect on young people, and in 2009 Johan Cruyff received the UEFA Grassroots Award on the opening of the 100th court.

Legal issue

In 1974 when Johan Cruyff had his third child, he called him Jordi,after the patron saint of Catalonia, St Jordi, commonly known in English as Saint George of Lydda. But as the Spanish dictator General Franco had made all symbols of Catalan nationalism illegal, this was seen as a provocative gesture. Therefore, Cruyff had to fly his son back to the Netherlands to register his birth. Cruyff's decision to go to such great lengths to support Catalan nationalism is part of the reason he is a hero to Barcelona supporters and Catalan nationalists.

Johan Cruyff career statistics

Following Johan Cruyff biography, in this part, we would have a rundown of his career statistics.


As mentioned before, Johan Cruyff joined the youth  squad of Amsterdam’s Ajax when he was 10 years old and he joined  the senior team when he was 17. After helping Ajax win six league titles, four national cups, and three European Champion Clubs’ Cups, he was transferred to FC Barcelona in 1973. In 1974, Barcelona with Cruyff as the captaine won the Spanish League championship and was runner-up in 1976 and 1977.1977-78 season was his last season with La Liga. 

Johan Cruyff moved to United States and from 1979 to 1980 he played with several American teams, including the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats, and he was named the North American Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player in 1979. Then he returned to Ajax in 1981 and played for the team for two seasons but after that he joined Feyenoord which was Ajax rival due to a contract dispute. There he won his ninth Dutch championship and fifth national cup. 

In 1984, he announced his final retirement and played his last game in Saudi Arabia against Al-Ahli, bringing Feyenoord back into the game with a goal and an assist.


Johan Cruyff joined Netherland National team in 1966 when he was 19 and he could score 33 goals in 48 international matches.In the 1974 World Cup tournament, Cruyff was the leader of the Dutch team and they could put on a memorable display of total football and earn the nickname “Clockwork Orange” (a name borrowed from the novel but inspired by the team’s orange jerseys). However the Netherlands lost to West Germany in the championship match, Cruyff won the tournament’s Golden Ball (Most Valuable Player) award.Johan Cruyff retired from international football in October 1977.


After retiring as a player in 1984, Johan Cruyff started his coaching career. He coached Ajax from 1985 to 1988 and Barcelona from 1988 to 1996. Both In Ajax (1987) and Barcelona (1989) earned European Cup Winners’ Cup. In 1992 he guided Barcelona to both the European Champion Clubs’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. He returned to the sidelines in 2009 to manage the Catalonian national team, a position he held until 2013.

Johan Cruyff honors

Johan Cruyff is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players and managers in football history. Johan Cruyff entered the professional level of football in 1964 and till the time of his retirement, his prosperous career is a highlighter with several trophy wins.

As a player Johan Cruyff could win Eredivisie in 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1981–82, and 1982–83, KNVB Cup in 1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, and 1982–83, European Cup in 1970–71, 1971–72, and 1972–73, European Super Cup in 1972, 1973, Intercontinental Cup in 1972, La Liga in 1973–7, Copa del Rein 1977–78, Eredivisie in 1983–84, KNVB Cup in 1983–84.

At the international level, he could win FIFA World Cup Runner-up in 1974, UEFA European Championship Third place in 1976.

As one of the most influential successful managers in football history, Johan Cruyff could win KNVB Cup in 1985–86, 1986–87, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1986–87, La Liga in 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, Copa del Rey in 1989–90, Supercopa de España in 1991, 1992, 1994, European Cup/UEFA Champions League in 1991–92, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1988–89, UEFA Super Cup in 1992.

Being one of the greatest soccer players in the world, Johan Cruyff won so many individual trophies including Ballon d'Or in 1971, 1973, 1974; Third place in 1975, Eredivisie top scorer in 1966–67, 1971–72, KNVB Cup top scorer in 1966–67, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, European Cup top scorer in 1971–72, Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1968, 1972, 1984, Dutch Sportsman of the Year in 1973, 1974, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1974, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1974, IOC European Footballer of the Season in 1970–71, 1972–73, Don Balón Award in 1977, 1978, North American Soccer League MVP in 1979, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team in 1994, FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, World Team of the 20th Century, FIFA 100, World Soccer's Greatest XI of All Time in 2013, World Soccer's The Greatest Players of the 20th Century #3, France Football's Player of the Century #3, IFFHS European Player of the Century #1, IFFHS World Player of the Century #2, UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll (2004) #3, IFFHS#Best European Player 1956-1990 #3, FourFourTwo100 greatest footballers ever #4, IFFHS Legends, Ballon d'Or Dream Team (Silver) in 2020.

As a manager, he also won so many individual trophies including World Soccer Awards Manager of the Year in 1987, Don Balón Award for Coach of the Year in 1991, 1992, Onze d'Or for Coach of the Year in 1991, 1992, European Coach of the Season in 1991–92, FourFourTwo 3rd Greatest Manager of All Time in 2020, France Football 4th Greatest Manager of All Time in 2019, World Soccer 29th Greatest Manager of All Time in 2013.

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