The tiki-taka wasn’t a 100% original idea. Pep Guardiola didn’t invent the wheel, but he sure did improve it.

Pep Guardiola is not the only man responsible for Barcelona’s unique style. Johan Cruyff deserves some credit as well. Johan Cruyff was a success at Barcelona, both as a player and a coach.

As a coach he led Barcelona to their first European Cup, and as a player to their first league title in 14 years. But it’s not all about the titles, Cruyff changed both Barcelona and football in general.

His approach was led by the total football idea. He often solved problems with even more offensive approaches.

“His first solution was always to be more attacking, more expansive. Three at the back and the centre-back is Ronald Koeman? Instead of full-backs, midfielders?”

“Every time he sought a solution, he attacked more. And when he told us what he was doing, we thought: ‘Is he mad or what?’” – Txiki Begiristain

Before and after Cruyff

The only stats that you need to know is that before 1990 Barcelona had won 10 league titles in their entire history. But things changed after the Dutchman arrived.

Since then, Barcelona have won 13 leagues and five European Cups. Cruyff became Barcelona’s manager in 1988, and things were never the same again.

But did you know that he was close to signing for R. Madrid. Ajax, his first club, was determined to sell the young prospect to Madrid.

But his wish was to play for Barcelona, and he even threatened to retire unless he was allowed to join the Blaugrana.

In tribute to Johan Cruyff, we’ve included 10 brilliant quotes that prove he was football’s ultimate philosopher.

In tribute to Johan Cruyff…

  1. “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”
  2. “There is only one ball, so you need to have it.”
  3. “Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.”
  4. “If I wanted you to understand it, I would have explained it better.”
  5. “Why couldn’t you beat a richer club? I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.”
  6. “People who are not of my level can’t affect my integrity.”
  7. “If I start running slightly earlier than someone else, I seem faster.”
  8. “Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1000 times. Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in the circus.”
  9. “We must make sure their worst players get the ball the most. You’ll get it back in no time.”
  10. “Choose the best player for every position, and you’ll end up not with a strong XI, but with 11 strong 1’s.”

Johan Cruyff passed away on 24 March 2016 (aged 68), but his work will always be remembered. He changed football, and he changed Barcelona.

He was Pep’s inspiration to take Barcelona to another level. He made his mark both as a player and a coach. His football contributions will be remembered by every football fan out there, and not just Barcelona’s.

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