Johan Cruyff, one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game, dies at 68 after battling cancer
Barcelona: Johan Cruyff, one of the greatest footballers in history, died yesterday at the age of 68 from lung cancer, his family announced.
The Netherland's Johan Cruyff controls the ball during the 1974 World Cup final match against West Germany in Munich. Pic/AFP
Cruyff died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard-fought battle with cancer", said a statement on the legend's official website.
"It's with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."
The Dutchman won three European Cups as a player with Ajax as well as three Ballon d'Or titles (1971, 1973, 1974). He then led Barcelona to their first European Cup title as a manager in 1992.
The incarnation of Total Football that took the Dutch team to the World Cup final in 1974, Cruyff was a long-time smoker who revealed in October last year that he had lung cancer.
He gave up smoking in 1991 after open-heart surgery. The news still came as a shock to the football world and tributes quickly flooded in.
Cruyff left an astonishingly rich legacy behind him.
He was 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.
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.
What the Dutch did win was a great deal of admiration for their idea of "total football".
He 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.
He turned professional at 17 becoming the leading scorer in Holland in only his third season with 33 goals.