The Laureus World Sports Academy has paid tribute to Dutch football genius Johan Cruyff who died last month, honouring him at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin.
The Cruyff family received a special posthumous Laureus Spirit of Sport Award to celebrate his life. It was presented to son Jordi Cruyff by another Dutch football legend, Laureus Ambassador Ruud Gullit.
Gullit said: “I want to thank Johan for being an inspiration and putting Holland on the map. He made me the football player that I became. Thank you, Johan, for everything that you did for Holland and for me. As a player he was 20 years ahead in the things he did. I want to thank him for making me a Total Football player.”
Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses said: “It was planned that Johan should have received the Award in person, but sadly he died unexpectedly from the lung cancer with which he was suffering. His loss was a tragedy for millions of football fans who enjoyed seeing him play in the flesh, or on television and video. It is impossible to overstate the impact he made on football and sport. His legacy truly will live for ever. He represented everything that was good about sport.”
In an era of cautious tactics, Cruyff’s Holland broke the mould, playing with an open attacking style which became known as Total Football. Later, as coach at FC Barcelona in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, his vision and energy laid the foundations that were to make the club pre-eminent in football.
France’s World Cup winner and Laureus Academy Member Marcel Desailly said: “The word great is often overused, but not when you talk about Johan Cruyff. The Total Football that he played with Ajax, Barcelona and Holland was revolutionary and excited a generation of players and fans. As a coach with Barcelona, he laid the foundations for the greatness of that club today.”