Johan Cruyff dies of cancer at age of 68
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 25/03/16 6:44am
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff has died after a long battle with lung cancer at the age of 68.
A statement from his family read: "On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer.
"It's with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."
A minute's silence will be held during the 14th minute of Holland's friendly match against France on Friday, a reference to the number 14 shirt Cruyff wore for the majority of his career.
A three-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, he revealed in October last year that he had been diagnosed with the illness.
As a player he won three consecutive European Cups with Ajax and eight Dutch league titles, before moving to Barcelona for a then-world record fee of £922,000 in mid-season in 1973. He immediately led what had been a mid-table team to their first La Liga title in a decade, their crowning moment a 5-0 victory at Real Madrid.
He finished his playing career in Holland with spells at Ajax and Feyenoord. He scored 405 goals in 711 games over a 19-year playing career in domestic and international football.
He coached Ajax from 1985 to 1988, and then, just as in his playing career, Cruyff was lured away by Barcelona and he led them to their first European Cup victory in 1992. He also guided Barca to the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1989, and won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1990-91 to 1993-4.
He was the figurehead of the great Dutch team - the most famous exponents of 'Total Football' - which reached the World Cup final in 1974, where they lost to West Germany.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he invented the 'Cruyff Turn', a simultaneous lightning-fast drag back and 180-degree turn.
Cruyff smoked cigarettes most of his life and finally quit after undergoing an emergency bypass operation in 1991. After more heart trouble in 1997, he vowed never to coach again, though he remained a vocal football critic and analyst.
Just last month Cruyff said he felt he was winning his battle with cancer, saying: "I have the feeling that I am 2-0 up in the first half. The game is not over yet. Still I know that in the end, I will win."
Barcelona tweeted: "We'll always love you, Johan. Rest in peace."
And the Dutch FA posted: "With great sadness we learned of the death of Johan Cruyff . Words are not enough."