Netherlands and Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff has died aged 68 after a battle with cancer.
The former Ajax and Barcelona star had previously announced a period of ill-health in October 2015, indicating that he was set to undergo open heart surgery.
And a statement on Cruyff’s website on Thursday announced that the 68-year-old had died.
“On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer,” the statement read.
“It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
Cruyff initially made his name with Ajax, winning eight Eredivisie titles with the club over two spells and instituting a footballing philosophy that came to be known as ‘Total Football’.
Alongside coach Rinus Michels, Cruyff also reached the 1974 World Cup final with a Netherlands side that many regard as the nation’s greatest of all time.
Following his first spell at Ajax, the Dutch attacker then moved on to Barcelona in 1973, winning the league and cup during his time at the club, before moving to the United States and eventually back to Ajax.
After his playing career, Cruyff continued in the game, leading Ajax but then establishing his true credentials as a coach at Barcelona, winning four league titles, a European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Uefa Champions League in the period between 1988 and 1996.
But Cruyff’s influence was not limited to his immediate achievements as a player and coach. Many credit the Dutch legend with instituting the tiki-taka style that Barcelona have become famous for, reinventing the club’s youth system that eventually produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
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