It’s been five years since the death of the greatest footballer the Netherlands has ever known. Follow football journalist Kees Jansma Johan Cruyff as a football player, coach, analyst, manager and as a person. He says, “He was spiritually independent.” Speech makers.
“Cruyff once said that you could only practice a profession if you were mentally independent. And it was,” says Kees Jansma. “He made his own decisions, good or bad, for himself and on his own behalf.”
Louis Van Gaal
There are very few of these independent minds left in football. Jansma: “I worked with one of them, which is Louis van Gaal. Van Gaal gets some criticism, but he does what he thinks too.”
Jansma still remembers how he and his father sat in the stands in Ajax when Cruyff debuted. They were 19 years old at the time and during their careers they would meet with different abilities.
Cruyff as a person
Jansma respected Cruyff from the start, but as someone he had reservations at first. “I was more attracted to introverts like Pete Keizer rather than the brilliant Johan Cruyff.”
Ultimately, Jansma is also influenced by Cruijff’s character. “It was the way he treated people without any kind of harassment,” says Jansma. “He himself was a high or low person.”
Even as Cruijff was a world famous and lover everywhere he went, he continued to care about, say, the person who always picked him up in Schiphol. “Is Eric sick?” He was asking if he wasn’t there. “It surprised me,” says Jansma.
Jansma also mentions the tremendous efforts of Cruijff and the Johan Cruyff Foundation for Children with Disabilities. “He dealt with these children with a great deal of flexibility and warmth. He did it with a kind of nature.”
So the contrast with Cruyff as manager of Ajax couldn’t be greater. The sports journalist thought Cruyff might be too hesitant. “Whoever is not with him is against him. Thus, he can act with exceptional cruelty towards his opponents.”
“On the one hand, he had great, innovative ideas,” says Jansma. Cruyff once decided to fire twenty young coaches because this did not fit his vision. “He was very tough about that.”
Cruyff himself did not see his actions as cruel, but clear, says the sports presenter. And he saw them as obstacles that he had to overcome to reach his goal.
The victory was secondary
Cruyff left a clear imprint on Dutch football itself. “Number 14” was convinced that you should play “beautiful football”.
Nowadays, more money is used in football and many coaches and clubs are only thinking about winning. “Cruijff was the other way around,” says Jansma. “Winning was important, but it was secondary in fact. Beautiful football was actually more important.”
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