Monday 5 December 2016

Fans pay respects at Barcelona memorial to Cruyff

Published 26/03/2016 | 16:16

A photograph is displayed showing the late Johan Cruyff as FC Barcelona supporters offer their respects to the footballer at the Nou Camp (AP)
A photograph is displayed showing the late Johan Cruyff as FC Barcelona supporters offer their respects to the footballer at the Nou Camp (AP)

Thousands of fans mourning the death of Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff have paid their respects to the former player and coach at a temporary memorial in Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium.

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The Spanish club said more than 5,000 fans passed through the memorial by 1.30pm local time on Saturday. It will remain open until Tuesday, when Barcelona's players will attend after returning from international duty.

A book of condolence has been opened for attendees, who will file past a large photo of the Dutch great inside the stadium lobby. The photo is flanked by club and Catalonia flags and rose bouquets.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu inaugurated the memorial on Saturday morning for the "maestro" who "changed our club".

He said: "These are sad, very sad days for the world of Barcelona and also for the world of football."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont paid their respects along with fans.

Some fans left scarves, flowers and lollipops - which Cruyff ate as a manager after stopping smoking following heart surgery - outside the stadium.

Mr Bartomeu said that the book of condolence will be given to Cruyff's family.

After winning three consecutive European Cups with Ajax, Cruyff joined Barcelona mid-season in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94, as well as the club's first European Cup, in 1992.

Barcelona considers Cruyff the mastermind of its signature short-pass-based attacking play which has made it the world's dominant team for the past decade.

Cruff also led the Dutch national side to the World Cup final in 1974, where they lost to the host nation, West Germany.

Mr Bartomeu and seven former presidents wrote in a public letter that the "professional and personal footprint he left at our club is enormous".

Cruyff died of lung cancer on Thursday at the age of 68.

Press Association

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