Johan Cruyff – Interview

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It was 30 years ago, that Johan Cruyff played his last match in the European Cup, the three-times winner and four-times finalist bringing the curtain down on one of the great odysseys of the game in Amsterdam against, of all teams, Celtic. Not that the man himself knows, of course.

Frankly, he hasn’t a clue. “My last game in the European Cup?” he ponders. “Was that the one? Against Celtic? But I played for Feyenoord the next season. Oh, but we didn’t qualify. Celtic was the last one? I didn’t know it.”

…..

Cruyff may not be in the frontline of the game any more, but he is never far away. He is an adviser at Chivas, he keeps his hand in at Ajax, he has a presence at Barcelona, the place he revolutionised, the club whose ethos he created in his remarkable years at Camp Nou as player and manager and icon for all times. He runs his Foundation, an organisation dedicated to helping children with disabilities better themselves through sport. He’s talking about this with a passion that is impossible to miss.

“We promote disabled sport and through sport we help these kids get more independence in their own lives. I was at the Paralympics as a guest of Sebastian Coe. It was amazing. Watching these athletes gives you so much energy. It looks like you help them but basically they help you because, if you have a headache, you say ‘I can’t do it today I’ve got a headache’, but they… they never stop. For me, the most impressive thing was the swimming. What we saw there, unbelievable, unbelievable. The most inspirational sport you will ever see.”

…..

On the face of it, Barcelona haven’t skipped a beat since Pep Guardiola moved on and Tito Vilanova moved up. They’re top of La Liga with an eight-point advantage over Real Madrid. Cruyff isn’t so sure, though. He’s reluctant to go into detail but, apparently, he’s not sold on some of the elements of Vilanova’s regime. He says: “Pep has left now and he was wonderful. A lot of the things in the youth system in Barcelona are changing and I don’t think for the best. It always takes a few years before things come out. Why not for the best? There’s a few things in the knowledge of the game, in the knowledge of the physical preparation that have changed that I’m not so sure about. You have to be innovative all the time.

“When he was there, Pep was innovative, he was great. Very intelligent. But they are ahead of Real Madrid, so that’s good. Real Madrid haven’t started so well. It happens all the time, it happens everywhere. People need to play with their heart, people have to want to be there and be part of something and money is a nice thing but it’s not everything. Everybody could use the money but you don’t play for it, you play with your heart and that’s a big difference you see in Barcelona. Everybody wants to play there, everybody wants to enjoy themselves. It’s maybe a small percentage but maybe it’s the difference.”

Read the entire interview here.

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