Top 10 dis­ci­ples of Jo­han Cruyff

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL - By Rob Bagchi

1 Euse­bio Sacristan

One of Jo­han Cruyff’s first sign­ings at Barcelona, the Spain util­ity mid­fielder was the un­sung stal­wart of the ‘Dream Team’ who won the Euro­pean Cup and four league ti­tles un­der Cruyff. Ap­pointed to suc­ceed David Moyes at Real So­ciedad last au­tumn, Euse­bio said Cruyff was his ‘‘football fa­ther’’ who taught him how to live and how to win.

2 Hristo Sto­ichkov

The great Bul­garia for­ward (right) teamed up with Ro­mario at the Nou Camp to form one of the finest for­ward lines. Cruyff trea­sured his tac­ti­cal clev­er­ness. ‘‘A friend, a coach, a men­tor,’’ said Sto­ichkov.

3 Den­nis Bergkamp

The Arse­nal leg­end learnt his trade on the wing as a 17year-old for Cruyff at Ajax and played un­der him for two sea­sons. Cruyff backed his ta­lent as a 12-year-old while still play­ing and two decades on from giv­ing him his de­but en­ticed him back to Am­s­ter­dam as part of an­other Ajax coach­ing rev­o­lu­tion.

4 Danny Blind

Cruyff signed the de­fender from Sparta Rot­ter­dam in 1986. In 1995, un­der Louis van Gaal, Blind cap­tained Ajax to their first Euro­pean Cup since Cruyff’s hat-trick and as a coach he worked at Ajax and with Holland be­fore be­ing ap­pointed Holland man­ager last sum­mer. “We all have a bond with Cruyff,” he said last week. “I owe him a lot.”

5 Michael Lau­drup

Cruyff had been Lau­drup’s boy­hood hero and he leapt at a chance to join him at Barcelona. Twice elected Spain’s player of the year and won the Euro­pean Cup and four ti­tles at the Nou Camp. When he won the League Cup as Swansea man­ager in 2013, he said: “There are a lot of things I learnt from him in train­ing that I am us­ing now.”

6 Marco van Bas­ten

Played along­side Cruyff at Ajax for two sea­sons and be­came a com­pellingly clin­i­cal cen­tre­for­ward. His swift, sleek el­e­gance as a player was honed fur­ther when Cruyff re­turned as man­ager and ‘The Swan of Utrecht’ went on to en­joy a dev­as­tat­ing, if too short, ca­reer up front for AC Mi­lan and Holland.

7 Ruud Gul­lit

Gul­lit (right) was 21 when Cruyff joined Feyeno­ord de­ter­mined to spite Ajax, who had let him go. They won the dou­ble and he pol­ished Gul­lit’s po­si­tional aware­ness so that he ap­plied him­self on the field where he could be most de­struc­tive. “Thank you for be­ing my teacher,” wrote Gul­lit, of the friend whose niece he mar­ried.

8 Frank Ri­jkaard

A won­der­ful de­fen­sive ta­lent de­ployed in front of the back three by Cruyff at Ajax where he blos­somed into one of the keys to Holland’s Euro 88 vic­tory and AC Mi­lan’s Euro­pean Cups in 1989 and 1990. He won his own hat-trick back at Ajax in 1995 and em­u­lated Cruyff again by win­ning it as a man­ager with Barcelona in 2006.

9 Ron­ald Koe­man

Left af­ter only a sea­son of Cruyff’s man­age­ment to move to PSV in 1986, much to Ajax’s chagrin, but his man­ager held no grudge, sign­ing him for Barcelona where his vision, im­pec­ca­ble con­trol and re­mark­able ball-strik­ing power and pre­ci­sion found their per­fect stage. The two were close and hol­i­dayed to­gether.

10 Pep Guardi­ola

Guardi­ola en­hanced the Cruyff prin­ci­ples at Barcelona by mar­ry­ing an at­tack­ing phi­los­o­phy and acute spa­tial aware­ness to hyp­no­tis­ing ro­ta­tion of pos­ses­sion and ball re­ten­tion. The for­mer mid­fielder be­came a reg­u­lar un­der Cruyff in the 1991-92 Euro­pean Cup­win­ning sea­son, and added two more as Barcelona man­ager.

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