Johan Cruyff: former Dutch, Ajax & Barcelona legend dies of cancer at 68

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One of Netherlands greatest and arguably one of the worlds best footballers in the history of the game, Johan Cruyff has died of cancer aged 68 as announced on his official website earlier today – “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,” – read a statement on the World of Johan Cruyff website.

Cruyff was a heavy smoker until undergoing heart surgery in 1991 and only recently made his illness public in October last year.

Eventually, the cigarettes were replaced by lollipops and Cruyff kicked the habit.

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He featured in a Catalan health department advert, saying: “Football has given me everything in life, tobacco almost took it all away.”

Just last month the former Ajax, Barcelona and Holland star said he was ‘2-0’ up in his match against lung cancer and, “I’m sure I’ll end up winning”.

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He is regarded as one of the game’s greatest players. He led Ajax to three consecutive European Cups from 1971 to 1973 and was the main man for Holland as they came close to winning their first World Cup in 1974 against West Germany, a heroic effort in which he received The Golden Boot for the tournament.

As a player he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974.

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By then he had joined Barcelona for a world record fee. He went on to become a huge favourite at the Camp Nou winning La Liga and the European Footballer of the Year award in his first season. Eventually, he took over the Catalan club as a manager and guided his team to its first European Cup triumph in 1992 as well as winning four successive La Liga titles between 1991 and 1994.

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Cruyff has had a staggering career as a footballer, manager, husband, father, entrepreneur and a leader! He is definitely resting in a good place now. R.I.P Johan Cryuff! The world will never forget you! #RIPJohanCruyff

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“People remember very well that not only were you an outstanding football player but that you gave football a social content, you made it an educational process. You are a role model. Football is one of the great ways to make peace among people. When a player like you arrives in our country the eyes of the children light up; Jewish, Arab or Muslim.”

—President of Israel, Shimon Peres, greets Cruyff.
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