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What they said about Cruyff

  • Johan Cruyff passed away five years ago today
  • FIFA.com highlights some of the best quotes about him
  • Guardiola, Lineker, Michels, Pele and Xavi feature

“Cruyff is the most important person in the history of the Spanish national team.”
Xavi

“I walked in the dressing room after the game, looked at my team-mates, and we all burst out laughing. I still find it funny now. I still don’t know how he did it. Every time I watch the video I think, ‘The ball is mine’. I don’t feel in the slightest bit humiliated. It was a moment of absolute genius. I love it. I played at the top level for 18 years. That moment against Cruyff is the proudest of my career.”
Jan Olsson

“Johan Cruyff painted the chapel, and Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it. I knew nothing about football before Johan Cruyff. For me he is the most influential manager of all time.”
Pep Guardiola

“He was so technically perfect that he stopped trying to get better when he was a kid. Instead he was obsessed with the tactical side of things – as a kid! So on the pitch you had not only the best player in the world, but a tactical genius showing everybody what to do.”
Marco van Basten

“They call Rio de Janeiro ‘The Wonderful City’. People come here, they are enchanted, they love it. Cruyff was like Rio. People watched him, they were enchanted, they loved him.”
Carlos Alberto

“He did more to make the beautiful game beautiful than anyone in history.”
Gary Lineker

“Pythagoras in boots. Few have been able to exert, both physically and mentally, such mesmeric control on a match from one penalty area to another.”*
David Winner
*, author

“Messi and Ronaldo are amazing players, but Cruyff was an amazing player and way more influential on the pitch. He had an incredible understanding of the game. He was a great communicator. If you had to win a football match, there’s no-one you’d have over Cruyff.”*
Jesper Olsen
*

“He was certainly the best footballer Europe has produced. When players like Bale and Ronaldo are worth around €100 million, Johan would be worth billions!”*
Franz Beckenbauer
*

“People would always ask me, ‘Which players do you wish was Brazilian?’ I would say, ‘No-one. There are some incredible players, I admire watching them, but I don’t wish any were Brazilian. Then I saw Cruyff. I wished he was Brazilian. He was a joy to watch.”*
Pele
*

“Maradona, Pele, Eusebio, they were all fantastic players. But Johan was the greatest.”
Sjaak Swart

“Never in my life have I seen a player rule matches like Cruyff. He was the owner of the show. Much more than his team, the referee or the fans. His grip on what was happening on the field was amazing. He was a player, coach and referee at the same time.”
Jorge Valdano

“He did with a ball what no-one else would dare to try. Was he the greatest European player of all time? It’s difficult to imagine who was better.”
Terry Venables

“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.”
Johan Neeskens

“He was like Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of physique and power. He was like Messi in terms of ability, creativity and artistry. Cruyff combined both aspects into his game. He was one of a kind.”
Miguel Reina

“They said he would have made a good ballet dancer. I think we saw he would have made a good gymnast. Honestly, I think Johan could have become anything he wanted to.”
Rinus Michels on Cruyff’s ‘Phantom Goal’ against Atletico Madrid

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