Johan Cruyff, one of the undisputed greats of world football, has died of cancer at the age of 68.
Highly regarded as one of the best footballers ever, the gentle Dutchman spent many years battling smoking related diseases.
He had a double heart bypass in 1991 and gave up smoking while manager of Spanish club Barcelona.
Doctors told Cruyff that he had cancer in October 2015, but he seemed on top of the illness and cheerful as recently as February, when he said he felt ‘two up’ in a match against lung cancer and was determined to win.
He died aged 68.
Cruyff won many trophies as a player and manager.
With Dutch club side Ajax, he was part of team which won three European Cups in a row besides national league and cup titles.
He went on to manage Barcelona to four consecutive league titles and took them to the club’s first European Cup win in 1992.
His international career included playing in the Dutch ‘total football’ team that was beaten 2-1 by Germany in the World Cup Final.
Cruyff was renowned for his silky skills on the ball and an, ability to spot brilliant passes.
His innate ability and talent as a player led him to win three European Footballer of the Year accolades.
The Dutch FA celebrated his career as the greatest Dutch footballer of all time and as a world great.
“Words cannot express our loss,” said a spokesman.
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker said: “Football has lost someone who did more than most to make the beautiful game even more beautiful than almost anyone else ever.”
Snappy one liners
Cruyff was also known for his snappy one liners.
While managing Barcelona, he observed that he did not believe in God because before a game all 22 players crossed themselves.
“Surely if there was a God every match would end in a draw,” he said.
About total football he said that in his teams, the goalkeeper was the first attacker, while the strikers were the first defenders, which summed up the meaning of the term.