top 10 greatest football players of all time - 1 - Johan Cruijff

10 November 2011 09:06
At number one we have none other than the 'total footballer' Johan Cruijff (Cruyff).

Cruijff was exponent-in-chief of ‘total football’, a style of play developed by Ajax coach Rinus Michaels. The fluid approach to a players position is common today but it was proven by Cruiff and he has revolutionised the modern game with his 'number 14' shirt seeming to sum up this new idea. New ideas are great in principle but without the supreme skill of Cruiff it would have looked foolish.

The style arose to challenge the physical, static and thus more predictable aspect of the game at the time, emphasising the importance of technical skill and positional awareness. Cruijff and his Ajax team-mates were able swap positions to make it impossible to man-mark and as a consequence would throw opposition players out of position - he was particularly fond of taking defenders unawares by moving out from his central position to the wings.

He commented; "Total football is to do with your way of thinking, character - everything is involved. The Dutch team at that time was made up mostly from Ajax players. We could change position easily, and that's total football."

In addition to bringing 'Total Football' to the worlds attention he also developed new tricks such as the 'Cruyff Turn' and scored many memorable goals such as 'The Phantom Goal' considered one of the greatest ever scored.

Honours: Ballon d'Or (1971, 1973, 1974). In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the IFFHS, and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll. He came third in a vote organised by the French weekly magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect their Football Player of the Century.

European Cup (3), Eredivisie (8), UEFA Super Cup (3) among others.

Senior Club and National Team Statistics
PeriodTeamAppearances (Goals)
1964-1973Ajax240 (190)
1973-1978F.C. Barcelona143 (48)
1979-1980Los Angeles Aztecs27 (16)
1980-1981Washington Diplomats32 (12)
1981Levante10 (2)
1981-1983Ajax36 (14)
1983-1984Feyenoord33 (11)
1966-1978Netherlands48 (33)

Full nameHendrik Johannes Cruijff
Date of birth25 April 1947
Place of birthAmsterdam, Netherlands
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing positionAttacking midfielder/Forward

Johan Cruyff image

Source: DSG

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44