Profile: Johan Cryff, stylish incarnation of ‘Total Football’

Cruyff, who died from lung cancer aged 68 on Thursday, was a balletic, dazzlingly elegant player who came to embody the brilliant Ajax and Holland teams of the mid-1970s. Together with visionary coach Rinus Michels, he popularised the concept of ‘Total Football’ — a fluid playing system based on aggressive pressing, swarming attacks and positional interchanging that seemed to depend on an almost telepathic understanding between players. Cruyff, given licence to roam from his nominal position as centre-forward, was the on-pitch conductor, calculating angles, cajoling his team-mates into position and launching vertiginous dribbles into opposition territory with the ball at his feet.

My piece for AFP on Johann Cruyff’s role as a style icon and football innovator can be read here.

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