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Sports

Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff died at the age of 68

media Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff against Argentina, 1974 World Cup STF / AFP

Johan Cruyff, fro many one of the greatest footballers in history, passed away after losing his battle with cancer. The Dutchman, who on three occasions was voted the world player of the year, guided Holland to the World Cup final in 1974 and as a manager he spent eight years in charge of Barcelona.

One of the most exciting and gifted players ever to take the pitch, winning almost everything at club level in a glorious career not only as a player but also as a coach with Ajax and Barcelona, that’s how Johan Cruyff will be remembered - a football legend.

The Dutchman was also the lynchpin of the Holland side, the driving force at the heart of his nation's push to the World Cup final in 1974 where they lost a narrow and hard fought match 2-1 to West Germany.

Cruyff first showcased the 'Cruyff turn' at the 1974 World Cup in a match for the Netherlands against Sweden.

After that run to the 1974 final he won the third of his three Ballon d'Or titles as he towered above the European game, having led Ajax to the European Cup three times in 1971, 1972 and 1973.

Cruyff had it all - vision, speed, passing ability and the knack of getting into attacking positions, a genius that resulted in 33 goals in 48 games at national level.

Thanks to having him as manager, Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1990-91 to 1993-94 under his guidance and although he was sacked in 1995, he remained influential at the club for the rest of his life.

Just last month the former Ajax, Barcelona and Holland star, one of the main exponents, along with Rinus Michels, of the world famous Total Football – the Dutch style of play popularised in the 1970s, said he was ‘2-0 up’ in his match with lung cancer.

Cruyff, who was a heavy smoker until undergoing heart surgery in 1991, made his illness public in October last year.

UEFA president Michel Platini hailed Johan Cruyff as the "best player of all time."

"I've lost a friend, the world has lost a great man. I really admired him," said Platini, who like Cruyff was a three-time winner of the European player of the year award.

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