Monday 20 November 2017

Jordi Cruyff 'touched' by global mourning of father

Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands stands in the 14th minute for a minute's silence to remember Johan Cruyff (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands stands in the 14th minute for a minute's silence to remember Johan Cruyff (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Jamie Holland

Jordi Cruyff says he is "touched" by the messages of support and tributes to his father Johan, who lost his battle with cancer on Thursday.

The Dutch football great has been hailed as one of the best in history by fans around the globe.

In a message posted on his father's official website, Jordi wrote: "On behalf of my mother, sisters and the rest of the family I would like to say thank you for all the love, kind words and memories that have been shared with us, since yesterday but also over the past months.

"It has touched us deeply that Johan was such an inspiration to many of you. We would like to express our special thanks to all the doctors and medical staff who have supported us until the end."

The family is making arrangements for a final farewell to Cruyff and an official memorial.

His ability to transcend football's tribal boundaries was evident in Rotterdam, where the match between his final club, Feyenoord, and Sparta Rotterdam briefly stopped in the 14th minute - representing the number he wore for the Netherlands. Cruyff, a product of fierce rivals Ajax, played for Feyenoord in the 1983-84 season, helping them to a league and cup double.

There was also a pause in the 14th minute of the Netherlands' friendly against France in Amsterdam last night in honour of Cruyff, who guided his nation to the World Cup final in 1974.

And the tributes are set to continue for Cruyff, with the Dutch federation president Michael van Praag saying of the plan to name the Amsterdam Arena, Ajax's ground, in his honour: "I can't wait for the moment when we rename our stadium the Johan Cruyff Arena. It's the best tribute that we can pay him."

A three-time Ballon d'Or winner, Cruyff helped Ajax to eight Dutch titles and three successive European Cups before following manager Rinus Michels to Barcelona and winning the Primera Division in his first season.

Cruyff became synonymous with 'Total Football' and returned to the Netherlands to finish his playing days. He returned to Catalonia after his retirement and led Barca to four league titles and their first European Cup in 1992 - a period during which he underwent major heart surgery, which prompted him to stop smoking.

Cruyff was sacked in 1996 but remained influential at the Nou Camp for the rest of his life, with son Jordi playing at the club for a time.

Barcelona will hold a memorial for fans to pay their respects to the former player and coach from today until Tuesday at the Nou Camp. The president of Catalonia's regional government will attend the opening.

Many of Barcelona's first-team players are away playing with their national sides this weekend, and will attend the memorial on Tuesday. The club has also declared a period of mourning until April 2.

Barcelona posted a message on Instagram that said: "We'll always love you, Johan. Rest in peace", with a fuller statement paying tribute to a "player and a coach who will forever be a legend at the club".

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