Dutch football icon Johan Cruyff passes away at age 68
Three-time Ballon d'Or-winner Johan Cruyff has passed away from cancer at age 68, it has been announced.
The masterful Dutch footballer, who starred for the Netherlands during their run to the 1974 World Cup final, underwent a heart bypass in 1991 after a lifetime of smoking.
He had been diagnosed with lung cancer last October.
"On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer," Cruyff's official website announced.
"It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief."
The Dutchman won three European Cups with Ajax between 1971-73 before joining FC Barcelona. Cruyff also won a host of individual awards, taking home trophies for European Footballer of the Year in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
He was a revered player but made just as big an impact as a manager, guiding Barcelona to four-straight La Liga titles and their first European Cup in 1992 - while also helping to develop the style of football that would be mastered by Pep Guardiola during his trophy-laden spell at the club.
The Barcelona team managed by Cruyff, which featured Hristo Stoichkov, Ronald Koeman and Guardiola, became so dominant that they were nicknamed The Dream Team.
While Cruyff's club career was exceptional, it was with the Netherlands team where he became a world icon. Under manager Rinus Michels, the Dutch team of the 1974 World Cup perfected an attacking style known as Total Football, and although they were beaten 2-1 by West Germany in the final, it was the Oranje that captured the world's attention.
Rip Johan cruyff a sad day for football .. true footballing legend pic.twitter.com/qJ17CRJLPn— Cyrus Christie (@cyruschristie) March 24, 2016
Rest in peace Johan Cruyff. Football has lost a legend. pic.twitter.com/cSDkxBJ8zn— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 24, 2016
RIP Johan Cruyff..One of the Greats.— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) March 24, 2016