• Johan Cruyff passed away five years ago today
  • FIFA.com looks back on some of the nicest words spoken to him
  • Guardiola, Lineker, Michels, Pelé and Xavi speak out

“Cruyff is the most important person in the history of the Spanish national team.” – Xavi, former midfielder of Spain

“I went back to the locker room after the game, looked at my teammates and we all laughed. I still find it funny today. I still don’t know how he did it. Every time that I watch the video again, I think ‘the ball is for me’. I don’t feel the slightest humiliation. It was a moment of pure genius. I love it. I played at the highest level for 18 years. This moment against Cruyff is the greatest pride of my career. ” – Jan Olsson, former Swedish defender, “victim” of the brilliant Cruyff sham

“Johan Cruyff painted the chapel and since then Barcelona coaches have only been renovating or bringing it up to date. I did not know anything about football before Johan Cruyff. In history, no coach has had a such influence. ” – Pep Guardiola, Manchester City coach and former FC Barcelona coach

“He was so technically perfect that he stopped trying to improve when he was little. Instead, he was obsessed with the tactical side of the game when he was just a kid! on the pitch you had not only the best player in the world, but also a tactical genius who showed everyone what to do. ” – Marco van Basten, former Netherlands striker

“Rio de Janeiro is called ‘the wonderful city’. People come here, they are amazed, they love the city. Cruyff, it was Rio. People were watching him play, they were amazed, they adored him.” – Carlos Alberto, former Brazilian defender

“No one in history has done so much to make the beautiful game look beautiful.” – Gary Lineker, former England and FC Barcelona striker

“Pythagoras in studs. Few players have been able to exercise, both physically and mentally, such magnetic control over a game, from one penalty area to the next.” – David Winner, author

“Messi and Ronaldo are great players, but Cruyff was a great player and much more influential on the pitch. He understood the game like no one else. He was a great communicator. If you were to win a football match, you could not choose anyone other than Cruyff to accomplish your mission. ” – Jesper Olsen, former Denmark and Ajax Amsterdam winger

“He was without a doubt the best footballer in Europe.” – Franz Beckenbauer, former defender and coach of Germany

“People ask me all the time, ‘Which players would you like them to be Brazilians?’ I was like, ‘Nobody’. There are amazing players, I admire their game, but I don’t want them to be Brazilians. And then I saw Cruyff play. I wished he was Brazilian . It was pure bliss to watch. ” – Former Brazil striker Pelé, three-time FIFA World Cup winner

“Maradona, Pelé, Eusébio were all great players. But Johan was the greatest.” – Sjaak Swart, ancien ailier de l’Ajax Amsterdam

“I have never seen a player dictate a game as well as Cruyff. He put on the show. Much more than his team, the referee or the supporters. He had unparalleled knowledge of what was going on on the pitch. . He was a player, coach and referee all at the same time. ” – Jorge Valdano, former Argentina striker

“He was doing with the ball what no one dared to attempt. Was he the greatest European player of all time? It’s hard to imagine a better player.” – Terry Venables, former England manager

“If you think about the greatest players in history, most of them couldn’t be coaches. If you think about the greatest coaches in history, most of them weren’t great players. . Johan Cruyff succeeded in both areas and with the greatest class. ” – Johan Neeskens, former Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands midfielder

“He looked like Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of physique and power. He looked like Messi in terms of ability, creativity and artistry. Cruyff mixed all of those aspects. He was a one of a kind player.” – Miguel Reina, former goalkeeper of Spain and FC Barcelona

“They say he would have been a good star dancer. I think we saw that he would have been a very good gymnast. Frankly, I think Johan could have become whoever he wanted.” – Former Netherlands coach Rinus Michels on Cruyff’s ‘phantom goal’ against Atlético de Madrid

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