THE death of Johan Cruyff has a significance that has been comprehensively covered in the excellent, heartfelt tributes paid to one of the best players ever to have graced the planet. The Dutchman’s extraordinary personality has also been captured as has his contribution as a coach to the development of the game.
It was difficult to squeeze all my thoughts about a revolutionary, singular human being into 1200 words for The Herald. There was so much that could and should be said about the great man. A small afterthought did occur to me, however.
Football is a game that is plagued by clichés, many of them true. But Cruyff was one of many great players who destroyed the theory that excellent players cannot make great coaches. Cruyff was unusual in that he developed a style of play that had its origins in his playing career. He was, almost instinctively, a deep thinker about football. Many of his great moments were the product of innate talent and dedicated practice. But he had the ability, perhaps even the need, to investigate his ideas about the game and introduce them onto the football pitches of Ajax and Barcelona.
In this, he influenced the lives of great players such as Pep Guardiola and Marco van Basten but he also changed the way the game was played. But he is not the only great player to have been successful at the highest level as a coach
How about this as a Great Player, Great Coach team (3-5-2)
Dino Zoff (Word Cup winner who coached Italy to reach final of Euros in 2000),
Alf Ramsey (fine international full-back with Tottenham Hotspur who led England to World Cup in 1966), Jack Charlton (World Cup winner as a player whose exploits with the Republic of Ireland have become the stuff of legend) , Franz Beckenbauer (World Cup winner as player and manager);
Antonio Conte (won five Serie A titles as a player and three as a manager); Johan Cruyff (legend as player and coach), Pep Guardiola (top class player and innovative coach with Barcelona), Carlo Ancellotti (winner of Champions League as a player and a manager), Mario Zagallo (won World Cup as player and manager for Brazil)
Jupp Heynckes (in World Cup winning squad as player and coached Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to Champions League titles), Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool’s best ever player, winning three European Cups, and winning three league titles as a manager with Liverpool plus another one with Blackburn)
BY HUGH MACDONALD