One of the legends of soccer on the lifeblood of soccer

We all talk about the brilliance of FC Barcelona. Messi, Guardiola, Xavi, Iniesta, La Masia….but there’s probably little awareness of who started it all and what kind of person he is:

Johan Cruyff ( – a superstar player at top European clubs (including at Barcelona) in his time on par with the likes of Maradona and Messi, who then became a great coach, including at Barcelona.

Considered a visionary, he set in motion a style of play and way of looking at soccer that FC Barcelona fully embraced and aspects of which many clubs and teams around the world, including some of our youth teams here, have adopted.

The Spanish National Team did too and went on to win, in style, the Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. And it was Cruyff who created the famous La Masia youth academy at FC Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola, the famous manager and coach of Barcelona between 2008 to 2012, stated: “Throughout my career I’ve simply tried to instill what I learned from Johan Cruyff. He has had the biggest influence on football out of anyone in the world, first as a player and then as a coach.”

Cruyff is also simply a very good human being – take a look at the clip below and I think you’ll get a sense of this.

Following on from my recent post about the lifeblood of soccer please note his comments in the opening minute and again at minute 23 about the essence of what soccer should be – entertaining and fun for everyone involved, across all levels, abilities, and age groups.

It is more than just winning at all cost. Play with style (win or lose) to entertain and enjoy the game.

And as coaches and spectator parents let’s focus on celebrating the right aspects of the youth game.

For example, celebrate artistry as much as athleticism.

Celebrate the attempted dribble even if the boy or girl ‘only’ gets past one or two players.

Celebrate great teamwork. Celebrate attempted ‘crazy’ moves. Celebrate smart soccer IQ.

Avoid celebrating superficial aspects of the game such as a big kick upfield or just raw hustle. Don’t chastise youngsters for trying more creative aspects of the game even if it leads to conceding a goal.

Maybe reflect on what detracts from the joy of the beautiful game and what enhances it in your corner of the soccer world?

Author: James

Lifelong player and student of the beautiful game in Germany, England, and USA. Volunteer futsal coach and USSF referee.

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