When the sad news of his death broke, I realised guiltily that I hadn’t thought of Johann Cruyff for a while. The Mozart of football withdrew fully from the public eye last year after being diagnosed with cancer. He had really been a peripheral actor in the game since he was sacked from his last big job as manager of Barcelona in 1996.
If, over the past two decades, his personal profile has been relatively low – at least outside his native Holland and adopted Spain – his influence has nevertheless been at its height. And what a vertiginous pinnacle.
If we are living through the greatest era in footballing history, where, on the pitch at least, the beautiful game has regularly been achingly, heart-rendingly gorgeous, Cruyff above any other individual deserves the credit.
When the sad news of his death broke, I realised guiltily that I hadn’t thought of…